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Alito Extends Order Pausing Biden Administration’s Social Media Restrictions

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito extended an appeals court ruling that paused a lower court’s decision to block President Joe Biden’s administration from asking social media companies to take down information federal officials deemed ‘misinformation.’

“The decision to keep the matter on hold until Wednesday gives the court more time to consider the administration’s request to block an injunction issued by a lower court that had concluded that federal officials likely had violated the free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by coercing social media platforms into censoring certain posts,” Reuters reported.

“Alito’s order pauses the dispute until Sept. 27 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. He had previously halted the lower court’s ruling through Sept. 22,” the outlet noted further. “Alito is the justice designated by the court to act on certain matters arising from a group of states that include Louisiana, where the lawsuit was first filed.”

In July, the Daily Wire reported that Chief U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty, a Trump appointee, issued an injunction forbidding Biden administration officials from communicating with social media firms in what was viewed as a huge First Amendment victory.

Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), a former state attorney general, filed the complaint, alleging that government officials made efforts to exert unwarranted influence over these platforms, which he said resulted in the stifling of view that diverged from the administration’s views.

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“White House officials, CDC & others are stopped cold. We need to continue the fight to take down the Vast Censorship Enterprise,” Schmitt tweeted following the decision. “Their view of ‘misinformation’ isn’t an excuse to censor. This is the most important free speech case in a generation. Freedom is on the march.”

Schmitt filed the case when he served as Missouri’s attorney general before he was elected to the Senate last year.

White House officials, CDC & others are stopped cold. We need to continue the fight to take down the Vast Censorship Enterprise. Their view of ‘misinformation’ isn’t an excuse to censor. This is the most important free speech case in a generation. Freedom is on the march,” Schmitt said, calling the decision a “[b]ig win for the First Amendment on this Independence Day.”

There are some exceptions that Doughty allowed. The Washington Post reported he will allow for government officials to have contact with social media companies to inform them of posts involving “criminal activity or criminal conspiracies,” “national security threats, extortion, or other threats,” and crimes related to U.S. elections.

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Resist the Mainstream added:

Many expect the ruling to disrupt years of collaboration between tech companies and the government, especially in terms of addressing illegal activities and interference in elections.

The injunction applies to various executive agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prohibiting them from pressuring social media platforms into removing, suppressing or reducing the visibility of content protected by the First Amendment.

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The Republican attorneys general who joined with Schmitt in the lawsuit argued that frequent government contact with the social media companies constituted violations of the First Amendment, while they also cited concerns over antitrust issues and efforts to revoke the protections provided by Section 230.

Reuters added on Friday: “The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated much of an injunction that Doughty issued restricting the administration’s social media communications, with the exception of a provision concerning coercion, which they narrowed.”

“The narrowed injunction applied to the White House, the surgeon general, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI, saying they could not ‘coerce or significantly encourage’ the companies to remove content,” Reuters noted further.

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