A federal appeals court ruled that the Biden administration likely violated Americans’ First Amendment rights when it worked to censor speech during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Friday decision, the federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly commandeered speech.
“We find that the White House, acting in concert with the Surgeon General’s office, likely coerced the platforms to make their moderation decisions … and significantly encouraged the platforms’ decisions,” the three-judge panel wrote.
“We find that the FBI, too, likely coerced the platforms into moderating content, and encouraged them to do so by effecting changes to their moderation policies, both in violation of the First Amendment,” it added.
The decision modifies a previous lower court injunction which prohibited some government officials from coercing social media platforms to take down or limit posts on their websites.
It also comes after the Fifth Circuit temporarily blocked an order that put restrictions on the Biden administration’s communications with social media firms.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and former state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who initiated the lawsuit and is now a U.S. senator, commended the decision shortly after it was announced.
“This is another massive victory for free speech,” stated Schmitt, R-Mo. “Because of Missouri v. Biden, the federal government is prohibited yet again from colluding with social media giants to censor freedom of speech online.”
This story is still developing.
Luca Cacciatore ✉
Luca Cacciatore, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is based in Arlington, Virginia, reporting on news and politics.
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