by Ben Whedon
Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito on Thursday temporarily blocked an order limiting the Biden administration’s contact with social media firms as litigation proceeds.
Alito’s stay will last until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 22, the Washington Examiner reported. The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to lift the order from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Missouri v. Biden. That decision largely upheld a lower court order barring the government from working with social media companies to censor disfavored viewpoints online. Litigants have until Sept. 20 to file responses to the DOJ.
Last week, the appeals court backed Judge Terry Doughty’s July decision, which found that the government likely violated the First Amendment by working with social media companies during the coronavirus pandemic to curtail hostile viewpoints.
“Defendants, and their employees and agents, shall take no actions, formal or informal, directly or indirectly, to coerce or significantly encourage social-media companies to remove, delete, suppress, or reduce, including through altering their algorithms, posted social-media content containing protected free speech,” the court wrote. “That includes, but is not limited to, compelling the platforms to act, such as by intimating that some form of punishment will follow a failure to comply with any request, or supervising, directing, or otherwise meaningfully controlling the social-media companies’ decision-making process.”
Should the court ultimately uphold the 5th Circuit decision, key government offices and leaders such as the Surgeon General, the CDC, the FBI, and White House, would be barred from contacting social media companies to remove lawful speech.
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