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Court acknowledges that the Biden administration "likely violated the First Amendment" by putting pressure on social networks

An appeals court narrowed Judge Terry A. Doughty's order blocking the government from communicating with social media companies.

Joe Biden.

(Cordon Press)

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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty's claim that the Biden administration "likely violated the First Amendment" by pressuring social media to censor 'controversial' content. This includes issues like the origin of the COVID-19 virus, the alleged fraud in the 2020 elections and the story behind Hunter Biden's laptop.

The court limited the scope of Doughty's ruling that prohibited senior officials from communicating and meeting with social media companies, such as Facebook or X (formerly Twitter). Friday's court order said the restrictions were too broad because they banned the government from engaging in legal conduct. It also states that some are duplicative of each other, making them unnecessary.

The new ruling excludes parts of the government, such as the State Department, from the restrictions. Instead, it narrowed the impact to the White House, the Office of the Surgeon General, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

The FBI was also accused of coercing technology companies to remove content from their social media accounts, taking advantage of their "clear authority over the platforms."

The New Orleans court responded to the Biden administration's appeal against Doughty's decision, which in turn ruled following a lawsuit filed by, among others, then-Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

"This is another massive victory for free speech," said Schmitt after learning the court‘s ruling. "Because of Missouri v. Biden, the federal government is prohibited yet again from colluding with social media giants to censor freedom of speech online. I'm proud to have filed this case and I will continue to fight for freedom of speech here in the Senate."

"This administration has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections," the White House said in a statement collected by the New York Times.

Our consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people but make independent choices about the information they present.

The administration has ten days to appeal to the Supreme Court.