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Federal Judge limits Biden Admins’ Contact with Social Media

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Federal Judge limits Biden Admins' Contact with Social Media

A US District Court judge has temporarily barred Biden administration officials from meeting with tech companies regarding social media censorship, ruling that such meetings in the past were likely violations of the First Amendment.

Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty issued the injunction on Tuesday in response to recent cases filed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the White House allegedly forced or “significantly encouraged[d]” tech companies to restrict free expression, according to the lawsuits.

Doughty has barred various federal employees and agencies from contacting social media sites in an effort to control speech, including some of Biden’s Cabinet members and White House communications secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The lawsuits named Google, Meta, and Twitter.

According to the order acquired by Fox News, the government’s activities “likely violate the Free Speech Clause” and the court “is not persuaded by Defendants’ arguments,” handing a huge blow to the White House.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterised by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,'” Doughty said.

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“If Plaintiffs’ allegations are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack on free speech in US history,” the injunction continues. “The Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are accused of flagrantly violating the First Amendment’s right to free speech in their efforts to suppress alleged disinformation.”

According to the injunction, “the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech,” but the issues raised by the case extend “beyond party lines.”

“Viewpoint discrimination is an especially egregious form of content discrimination,” Doughty contended. “When the specific motivating ideology or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction, the government must refrain from regulating speech.”

The cases could imply that future connections between internet businesses and government officials will be considerably restricted. National security threats or criminal matters on social media may be exceptions.

On Tuesday, the Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general responded favorably to the injunction.

“America, happy birthday. “You have your First Amendment rights restored!!!” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey stated in a tweet.

“Today’s historic ruling is a significant step forward in the ongoing fight to prevent our government from engaging in unconstitutional censorship,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement. “We are looking forward to continuing to litigate the case and will vigorously defend the injunction on appeal.”

Fox News Digital requested statements from the White House, Google, Meta, and Twitter but did not receive a response. The Justice Department declined to comment.

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The First Amendment and Free Speech

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is a crucial part of the Bill of Rights, which consists of the first ten amendments. It was ratified on December 15, 1791. The First Amendment protects several fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peacefully assemble, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Here are the key elements protected by the First Amendment:

1. Freedom of Religion: The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing an official religion or interfering with an individual’s right to practice their religion freely. It ensures the separation of church and state and allows individuals to have their own beliefs or choose not to follow any religion.

2. Freedom of Speech: The First Amendment protects the right to free speech, enabling individuals to express their opinions, ideas, and beliefs without government censorship or punishment. However, certain limitations exist, such as speech that incites violence or poses a direct threat to national security.

3. Freedom of the Press: This aspect of the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press, allowing journalists and media organizations to report news and express opinions without government interference. It ensures a free flow of information, which is vital for a functioning democracy.

4. Right to Peacefully Assemble: The First Amendment grants the right to peacefully assemble and protest. Citizens can gather together for various purposes, such as expressing grievances, advocating for social change, or supporting a particular cause. However, assemblies that turn violent or disrupt public order may be subject to lawful restrictions.

5. Right to Petition: The First Amendment guarantees the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It allows individuals to address their concerns or complaints directly to the government through various means, including written petitions, demonstrations, or lobbying.

It is important to note that while the First Amendment protects these freedoms, there are reasonable limitations and restrictions in certain circumstances. For example, speech that incites violence or poses a threat to public safety may not be protected. Additionally, private organizations or individuals are not bound by the First Amendment and may impose their own restrictions on speech within their domains (e.g., workplace policies or social media platforms). The interpretation and application of the First Amendment continue to be subject to ongoing debates and legal analysis.

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