A federal judge has blocked key agencies within President Joe Biden’s administration from communicating with social media companies about certain online speech in an extraordinary ruling as part of an ongoing case that could have profound impacts on the First Amendment.
The preliminary injunction granted by Donald Trump-appointed US District Judge Terry A Doughty in Louisiana on 4 July prohibits the FBI and the US Department of Health and Human Services from speaking with platforms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
The ruling – which could obstruct the administration’s attempts to combat false and potentially dangerous claims about vaccines and elections – is a victory for Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri who have alleged that the federal government was overreaching in its attempts to combat Covid-19 disinformation and baseless election fraud narratives.
Judge Doughty, who has yet to issue a final ruling, stated in his injunction that the Republican plaintiffs “have produced evidence of a massive effort by Defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
He did make some exceptions that would allow the government to warn platforms about national security threats, criminal activity or voter suppression.
This is a developing story
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