A federal judge has blocked Biden administration officials from contacting social media companies in a landmark order targeting government censorship and suppression of online postings.
US District Court Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, determined Tuesday that the White House likely colluded with Big Tech to censor protected speech during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During … a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Doughty wrote in his 155-page order.
The judge concluded that the plaintiffs, led by the states of Missouri and Louisiana, were likely to succeed and issued a preliminary injunction limiting dozens of Biden administration officials from attempting to coordinate with social media giants to remove content.
Officials subject to the injunction include White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, employees of the Justice Department and FBI, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
The case was brought forth by Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and former Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is now a GOP senator from the Show-Me State.
Schmitt and Landry alleged in their suit that the government infringed the First Amendment and cited a litany of examples as backup, including the suppression of The Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden and discussion of the so-called COVID-19 lab leak theory.
“Ultimately, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have not shown that the choice to suppress free speech must in law be deemed to be that of the government. This Court disagrees,” Doughty noted.
During proceedings in the case, top former Biden administration officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and onetime White House press secretary Jen Psaki were summoned for depositions.
At one point in his 155-page order, Doughty underscored that “each example or category of suppressed speech was conservative in nature,” which he called “quite telling.”
In one example the judge cited, White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty asked Twitter to remove a parody account meant to be Finnegan Biden, the president’s granddaughter and offspring of Hunter Biden.
“Cannot stress the degree to which this needs to be resolved immediately,” Flaherty’s Feb. 6, 2021, request read. “Please remove this account immediately.” According to the ruling, the parody was zapped within 45 minutes of the request.
“This targeted suppression of conservative ideas is a perfect example of viewpoint discrimination of political speech,” Doughty wrote. “American citizens have the right to engage in free debate about the significant issues affecting the country … the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario.”
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey cheered Doughty’s decree, which is subject to appeal.
“The Court has granted our motion to BLOCK top officials in the federal government from violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans,” Bailey tweeted. “What a way to celebrate Independence Day.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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