OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has issued an emergency order in response to a lower court’s ruling restricting the Biden administration’s contact with social media companies.
Alito temporarily paused the order issued by a federal judge on July 4 after the Justice Department asked the nation’s highest court to issue a stay of the ruling, the Washington Examiner reported.
That said, the preliminary injunction will not necessarily last for long. Alito said the stay would last until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 22. Responses to the government’s application are due Sept. 20.
“The lawsuit, Missouri v. Biden, was filed last year by then-Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, claiming the federal government colluded with social media companies such as Twitter and Meta to suppress the freedom of speech,” the Washington Examiner noted.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court gave the Biden administration more bad news in a Friday ruling suggesting the White House violated a fundamental constitutional right during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Friday decision, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the White House, surgeon general, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Federal Bureau of Investigation unconstitutionally chilled free 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.
Newsmax noted further:
The decision modifies a lower court preliminary injunction which prohibited a wide-ranging group of government officials from coercing social media platforms to take down or limit posts on their websites.
While agreeing with much of the lower court’s premises, the new order limits the scope of the restrictions imposed to the groups it found culpable — the White House, surgeon general, CDC, and FBI.
The Fifth Circuit had previously temporarily blocked the injunction, issued by Judge Terry A. Doughty of the federal District Court in Western Louisiana.
Andrew Bailey, Missouri’s attorney general, and former Missouri Attorney General and now U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt, the latter of whom filed the initial lawsuit, expressed approval of the appeals court ruling after it was announced.
“This is another massive victory for free speech,” stated Schmitt, a Republican. “Because of Missouri v. Biden, the federal government is prohibited yet again from colluding with social media giants to censor freedom of speech online.”
An administration official told the Washington Post the ruling was being evaluated, and no decision had yet been made regarding an appeal.
“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 spokesperson said.
If the administration decides to appeal, it would have to go before the U.S. Supreme Court at this point. Justices are already slated to take up lower court rulings regarding social media disputes during their upcoming session, Newsmax reported.
Also, as a bipartisan effort to bar former President Donald Trump, the current leading 2024 GOP candidate, from running again for the White House using a provision of the Constitution builds steam, the nation’s highest court may step in and decide the issue.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 in the aftermath of the nation’s destructive Civil War, states that any political leaders who betrayed their oaths of office and “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. is disqualified from holding federal office.
Several groups and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and presidential contenders are trying to keep Trump off the ballot, alleging he participated in “insurrection” ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
The Supreme Court has indicated it will decide whether to hear a case involving an attempt to bar Trump from running under the 14th Amendment by Oct. 9.