Ten days after a federal judge in Missouri barred the Biden administration from contacting tech companies about posts protected by the First Amendment, the White House is temporarily no longer under that ban. Today, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals paused that judge’s order — at least until the higher court has time to weigh in more fully itself.
Originally, Judge Terry Doughty suggested that the Biden administration may be suppressing “millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens,” writing that the government had already “used its power to silence the opposition” by suppressing speech opposed to covid-19 vaccines and the validity of the 2020 election, among other things.
(It’s true that, for a time, social networks did resist amplifying the spread of major lies.)
The appeals court hasn’t said much on the matter yet — today’s order simply fast-tracks the appeal and grants a “temporary administrative stay...until further orders of the court.” That’s the part which lifts the original ban.
The ban kept quite a few specific agencies from engaging with social media firms, including the CDC, HHS, Census Bureau, FBI, DOJ, CISA, DHS, State Department, and many named officials. It did have exceptions for threats to national security, election security, cybersecurity and public safety, however.