Judge refuses Biden administration’s request to suspend order limiting its contact with social media companies

A federal judge on Monday denied the Biden administration’s request to suspend an order limiting government officials’ contact with social media companies concerning misinformation.  Biden administration attorneys had asked U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe to stay his own order, which was issued last Tuesday, 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. FEDERAL DEBT EXPLODES BY $1 TRILLION IN FIVE WEEKS SINCE DEAL SUSPENDING LIMIT BECAME LAW 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 TO APPEAL BIG TECH COLLUSION RULING BANNING ADMIN OFFICIALS MEETING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA FIRMS 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.  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. 
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