The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Biden administration officials likely violated First Amendment rights by “bullying” Big Tech companies to censor free speech during the COVID-19 plandemic.
The White House “coerced the platforms to make their moderation decisions by way of intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences,” the ruling states.
“So, in other words, the Biden administration forced social media companies to remove our posts that were critical of the Biden administration or made the Biden White House look bad,” Fox News host Jesse Watters said.
A bombshell ruling by the 5th circuit court today, finding the Biden White House, the FBI and the CDC violated the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans… pic.twitter.com/YYWuXs3HcQ
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) September 9, 2023
“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals UPHELD the District Court ruling in Missouri v. Biden, yet again enjoining the Biden Administration from colluding with social media companies to censor speech. This is yet another big win – I’m proud to have filed this case,” said former Missouri Attorney General and Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO).
🚨BREAKING: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals UPHELD the District Court ruling in Missouri v. Biden, yet again enjoining the Biden Administration from colluding with social media companies to censor speech.
This is yet another big win – I'm proud to have filed this case. pic.twitter.com/0ZrTudrUa1
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) September 8, 2023
Fox News reports:
The Biden administration “ran afoul” of the First Amendment by trying to pressure social media platforms over controversial COVID-19 content, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans ruled Friday.
In its 75-page ruling, the appeals court panel, made up of two George W. Bush nominees and one Trump nominee, said that President Biden, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI and the surgeon general cannot “coerce” social media platforms to remove content it deems problematic.
However, in its ruling, the court threw out language from a Louisiana judge in July who had ruled that the government could not contact social media platforms to urge them to take content down.
Under the new ruling, the administration has 10 days to seek a Supreme Court review.
The ruling stems from a Louisiana lawsuit that accuses the Biden administration of threatening platforms like X, formerly Twitter, and Facebook, with antitrust lawsuits or changes to federal law that protect their liability and of silencing conservative voices.
The lawsuit was filed by the states of Missouri and Louisiana, a conservative website owner, and four people opposed to the administration’s COVID-19 policy.
*BREAKING*: 5th circuit Court of Appeals upholds core provisions of injunction against the federal government’s censorship regime in our Missouri v Biden case. This is an important victory today for free speech in what will prove to be a long fight for our First Amendment rights.
— Aaron Kheriaty (@AaronKheriatyMD) September 8, 2023
“Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced today that the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld his free speech case, Missouri v. Biden, by enjoining the White House, Surgeon General, FBI, and CDC from continuing to violate the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans,” Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office said in a statement.
“We filed this landmark lawsuit against dozens of officials in the federal government to halt the biggest violation of the First Amendment in our nation’s history. The first brick was laid in the wall of separation between tech and state on July 4. Today’s ruling is yet another brick,” Bailey said.
“Missouri will continue to lead the way in the fight to defend our most fundamental freedoms,” he added.
Read more from Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey:
The Fifth Circuit wrote, “We find that the White House, acting in concert with the Surgeon General’s office, likely (1) coerced the platforms to make their moderation decisions by way of intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences, and (2) significantly encouraged the platforms’ decisions by commandeering their decision-making processes, both in violation of the First Amendment.”
The Court continued, “the officials made express threats and, at the very least, leaned into the inherent authority of the President’s office. The officials made inflammatory accusations, such as saying that the platforms were ‘poison[ing]’ the public, and ‘killing people.’ The platforms were told they needed to take greater responsibility and action. Then, they followed their statements with threats of ‘fundamental reforms’ like regulatory changes and increased enforcement actions that would ensure the platforms were ‘held accountable.’ But, beyond express threats, there was always an unspoken ‘or else.’”
The Court continued, “We find that the FBI, too, likely (1) coerced the platforms into moderating content, and (2) encouraged them to do so by effecting changes to their moderation policies, both in violation of the First Amendment. We start with coercion. Similar to the White House, Surgeon General, and CDC officials, the FBI regularly met with the platforms, shared ‘strategic information,’ frequently alerted the social media companies to misinformation spreading on their platforms, and monitored their content moderation policies. But, the FBI went beyond that—they urged the platforms to take down content. Turning to the Second Circuit’s four-factor test, we find that those requests were coercive.”