Biden admin appeals judge's order limiting its contact with social media companies

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe issued the injunction on July 4

The Biden administration on Monday filed an emergency stay with the 5th U.S. District Court of Appeals to temporarily suspend a federal judge's ruling that limited government officials’ contact with social media companies concerning misinformation. 

The request came shortly after U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty rejected the Biden administration's request to stay his own order – which he issued July 4 – while they pursue an appeal. That order came in a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, as well as a conservative website owner and four individual critics of government COVID-19 policies.

The lawsuit claimed the administration, in effect, censored free speech by using threats of regulatory action or protection while pressuring companies to remove what it deemed misinformation. 

The lawsuit spotlighted such topics as COVID-19 vaccines, legal issues involving President Biden's son Hunter and election fraud allegations.


Doughty’s injunction blocked the Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI and multiple other government agencies and administration officials from meeting with or contacting social media companies for the purpose of "encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech."

"Defendants do not identify any specific conduct that they claim is lawful but prevented by the injunction," Doughty said in Monday's ruling. He refused to block his own order while it is appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The administration can also ask the appeals court for a stay.


biden admin appeals judges order limiting its contact with social media companies

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.  (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In the government’s Thursday night request for a stay, Biden administration lawyers argued that it faced "irreparable harm" because Doughty's July 4 order may prevent the federal government from "working with social media companies on initiatives to prevent grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes." 

"These immediate and ongoing harms to the Government outweigh any risk of injury to Plaintiffs if a stay is granted, and for the same reason, a stay is in the public interest," the court memo stated. 

Doughty’s order, meanwhile, accused the Biden administration of assuming a role "similar to an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth.'" 

The Biden administration argued that the injunction would prevent it from speaking "on matters of public concern" and conducting its primary law enforcement responsibilities. 

biden admin appeals judges order limiting its contact with social media companies

Signage outside the US Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs have countered that Doughty’s injunction carves out exemptions allowing officials to contact social media companies about postings that involve criminal activity or public safety threats; national security threats; election-related issues including voter suppression attempts, voting infrastructure threats and illegal campaign contributions.

The injunction also states that officials can continue "exercising permissible public government speech promoting government policies or views on matters of public concern."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more. 

Authored by Bradford Betz via FoxNews July 10th 2023