Biden vs. Liberty: A Dangerous War on Free Speech Emerges from White House

The Biden administration announced its intention to challenge a judge’s ruling that blocked government agencies and officials from engaging with social media companies. Lawyers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) have filed an appeal in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. This comes after U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty made a decision on July 4, which has caused a legal dispute.

Attorneys from the DOJ filed a motion stating that the judge’s order to restrict executive branch communications with social media companies could have serious consequences. The order could hinder the government from performing a wide range of lawful and responsible actions, leading to significant harm. The DOJ’s first response to U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling on July 4 in Monroe was a request to stay the order.

The injunction, granted by Judge Doughty, resulted from a lawsuit filed in 2022 by Republican attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri. The lawsuit alleged collusion between the federal government and social media companies in censoring “disfavored” speech, which they argued violated the First Amendment.

While a final ruling in the case is still pending, the judge’s order prohibits certain officials and agencies from engaging with social media companies in any way that encourages or pressures the removal or suppression of protected free speech content.

The order specifically affects White House officials, including Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, as well as various agencies and officials within the government, such as the Homeland Security Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the DOJ, and the FBI. However, exceptions are listed in the order relating to flagging criminal behavior, national security concerns, and election tampering.

The defendants in the case contended that they did not seek to coerce social media companies into restricting free speech but aimed to combat disinformation or misinformation on topics like COVID, elections, and the Hunter Biden laptop story. They argued that it should be up to the social media platforms to regulate such content on their own terms.

The judge disagreed with this argument, expressing concern about the government assuming a role akin to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time marked by uncertainty and doubt.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey hailed the judge’s order as a victory for the right to freely express opinions without government censorship. He emphasized the need to establish a clear separation between technology companies and the state to protect the First Amendment right to free and open debate. Bailey promised to keep championing the protection of basic rights in Missouri.