On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued a notice of appeal for the injunction issued Tuesday barring federal officials from collaborating with social media companies to remove or suppress “protected free speech.”
Issued by Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty, the injunction that President Biden is appealing prohibits a number of named federal agencies from working with social media companies to take down, or limit the circulation of, “protected free speech” on their respective platforms.
They were also blocked from flagging specific content for deletion or requesting that companies “Be On The Lookout” for certain kinds of “protected free speech.”
In the 155-page memorandum that accompanied Judge Doughty’s injunction on Tuesday, he argued that the government’s alleged censorship efforts violated the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment.
“In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” Judge Doughty wrote. “Although the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech, the issues raised herein go beyond party lines.”
“The question does not concern whether speech is conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive, or somewhere in between. What matters is that Americans, despite their views, will not be censored or suppressed by the Government,” Judge Doughty said.
With this notice of appeals, the Biden Administration is essentially seeking to have the courts reinstate federal officials’ ability to pressure social media companies to moderate content, and by extension civilians’ “protected free speech,” in accordance with the government’s wishes.
If the Biden Administration successfully appeals the injunction, the federal government will likely retain, at least for the immediate future, the freedom to duplicate the same kind of social media censorship observed during the 2020 presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequently, President Biden is not necessarily challenging the factual basis of the injunction with this appeal, rather he is most probably pushing back against Judge Doughty’s analysis of these claims in which he characterized the actions of the named federal officials as unconstitutional.
The Biden Administration has not issued a statement regarding the injunction or the subsequent appeal.
It remains to be seen how the Fifth Circuit will handle President Biden’s appeal of Judge Doughty’s injunction.