A report shows the Justice Department requested the Supreme Court to temporarily block an appellate court’s rule restricting the Biden administration’s engagement with social media firms over free speech concerns.
To give opposing counsel time to reply to the government’s motion, Justice Samuel Alito, who oversees emergency petitions from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, temporarily stayed the injunction until September 22. The order doesn’t indicate how Alito would vote if the case reaches the Supreme Court.
The request comes after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies cannot “coerce” social media platforms to remove posts the government doesn’t like, concluding that the Biden administration most likely infringed the First Amendment by compelling social media companies to moderate specific content.
The appeals court ruled that the FBI, the White House, and the CDC had all committed acts of intimidation, while the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, the State Department, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), had not.
The Department of Justice claimed that the appeals court’s startling conclusions put unprecedented constraints on the capacity of federal agencies to address problems of public concern, avoid dangers to national security, and communicate information.
Reports show Republican attorneys general filed the suit, an attack on the Biden administration’s attempts to regulate the spread of misinformation on the internet. They said that government authorities coordinated and collaborated with social media companies to restrict access to information with conservative views, labeling these efforts a censorship campaign.
A federal court in Louisiana issued an injunction in July restricting the government’s ability to discuss any information with social media platforms. Judge Terry Doughty of the United States District Court ruled that governmental departments were all subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
After the Biden administration appealed, the 5th Circuit sided with Doughty and said that government personnel had most likely violated the First Amendment. As the court of appeals saw it, when social media corporations policed the information posted on their sites, they were performing a government function. A planned effort orchestrated by government authorities that endangered a fundamental feature of American life is how the court described the actions at issue in this case.