After a judge issued an injunction restricting the government’s censorship activities, the Biden administration rushed to protest the pro free-speech decision.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana granted the injunction due to an ongoing lawsuit from the Republican Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general. The lawsuit uncovered a “vast censorship enterprise” between the federal government and Big Tech companies.
While Doughty rebuked the government for seemingly attempting to be an “Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” the Biden administration has asked for a stay of the injunction, claiming it is “vague” and contradictory, according to The Washington Post.
Doughty wrote that “evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario. During the COVID-19 pandemic…the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’” In response, however, the Biden administration has argued that irreparable harm would result from pausing government censorship, The Post noted.
This argument was used even though Judge Doughty provided some exceptions for the government to communicate with tech companies about limited types of speech, per The Post.
In the 155-page injunction, Judge Doughty called the federal government’s censorship plot, “the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.” He explained that “conservative speech” was targeted “almost exclusively,” but that the issue of violating the First Amendment right to free speech goes “beyond party lines.” Americans “have the right to engage in free debate.”
In contrast, the DOJ’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton and his fellow lawyers complained about the order. “The Court’s July 4 preliminary injunction is both sweeping in scope and vague in its terms,” Boynton’s attorneys claimed, according to The Post.
Doughty had ruled that Missouri and Louisiana were likely to succeed in trial, and that the federal government should stop communicating with tech companies about content, except in specific circumstances (including for national security).
In contrast, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey rejoiced that July 4 was the perfect timing for a judge to defend Americans’ First Amendment rights. “We had to fight the Revolutionary War in part because King George tried to stamp out political dissent,” Bailey told the Daily Signal. “Now, the Biden administration is trying to censor speech he disagrees with. Fortunately, and thanks to the brave Founders on the Fourth of July, we now have the First Amendment to push back against the Biden administration’s censorship regime.”
DOJ attorneys claimed that the injunction “will chill a wide range of lawful government conduct relating to Defendants’ law enforcement responsibilities” and “obligations to protect the national security.” The Post added that the State Department had in fact canceled a regular meeting with Meta about content that is supposedly a national security risk.
On the other hand, Bailey called the injunction “a huge win for the right to freely speak without government censorship.”
Missouri v. Biden was originally filed in May 2022 and cited exclusive research from MRC Free Speech America.
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