Free Speech Wins: Judge Rules Biden Admin Can’t Pressure Big Tech to Censor

July 5th, 2023 12:43 PM

A huge free speech win came just in time for Independence Day as a federal court halted President Joe Biden’s administration from having Big Tech and NGOs do its censorship dirty work.

The Missouri v. Biden case has made efforts to hold certain members of the Biden administration accountable for working in tandem with social media companies to silence Americans. In a recent injunction, Louisiana Chief District Judge Terry A. Doughty ordered that the Biden administration can no longer “engag[e] in any communication of any kind” with Big Tech companies for the purpose of encouraging censorship of constitutionally protected speech. Doughty noted (page 154) in his ruling that the “evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic the U.S. government “seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’”

MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider noted how consequential the ruling truly is. "The judge's order was breathtaking in that it specifically pointed out that arguably the Biden administration was guilty of one of the most massive attacks against free speech in U.S. History," he said. "It is clear to all political analysts that the centerpiece of the Biden reelection campaign rests on silencing his opposition, by any means necessary, while promoting his propaganda through TikTok and other social media platforms. The court ruling prevents him from using the power of the government for his political ends."

The lawsuit notably cited an MRC Free Speech America study that revealed that “Big Tech” social media platforms censored criticism of Biden online 646 times between March 10, 2020, and March 10, 2022.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who filed the initial lawsuit against the Biden administration along with Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-LA), noted how appropriate it was that the injunction came down on July 4. “‘It’s a great day today. I mean, what a day to have is this handed down by the federal courts—Independence Day, of all days,’” he told The Epoch Times Tuesday. “‘This could be arguably one of the most important First Amendment cases in modern history.’”

The injunction forbids Biden administration officials from “meeting with social-media companies…emailing, calling, sending letters, texting, or engaging in any communication of any kind with social-media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.” They are similarly barred from “threatening, pressuring, or coercing social-media companies in any manner” to censor constitutionally protected speech. [Emphasis added.] 

In case “communications of any kind” was not clear enough, Doughty further spelled out that certain federal officials are prohibited from doing the following: 

  • “Specifically flagging content or posts on social-media platforms and/or forwarding such to social-media companies”; 
  • “Following up with social-media companies to determine whether the social-media companies” censored legal speech”;
  • “Requesting content reports from social-media companies detailing actions taken to censor legal speech”;
  • “Notifying social-media companies to Be on The Lookout (‘BOLO’) for postings containing protected free speech.”

Similarly, the Biden Administration cannot work around direct contact by “collaborating coordinating [or] partnering” with private organizations and groups like the Stanford Internet Observatory’s Election Integrity Partnership and Virality Project that pressure social media companies to censor speech protected by the First Amendment. 

The injunction, however, does not forbid the Biden Administration from notifying Big Tech of “criminal activity,” “national security threats” and other speech that isn’t constitutionally protected.

Doughty specifically singled out Biden, White House staff, the Surgeon General, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, among others as subject to the new restrictions. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.