The Supreme Court has blocked restrictions on the Biden administration's attempts to compel social media platforms to remove posts.

The Supreme Court has blocked restrictions on the Biden administration's attempts to compel social media platforms to remove posts.

The Supreme Court on Friday fully blocked a lower court's decision that would have limited the Biden administration's ability to communicate with social media companies regarding contentious content related to issues like Covid-19.

The decision, contained in a brief unsigned order, puts on hold a ruling by a Louisiana judge in July that specific agencies and officials should be prohibited from meeting with companies to discuss whether to suppress certain content.

The Supreme Court also agreed to expedite the government's appeal, meaning it will hear arguments and make a substantive decision during its current term, which runs until the end of June.

Three conservative justices noted they would have denied the application: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch.

"At this moment in our country's history, what the Court has done, I fear, may be seen by some as granting the government free rein to suppress viewpoints with which it disagrees in the name of combatting 'misinformation' and 'disinformation.' That is a bitter pill to swallow," Alito wrote in a separate opinion.

The attorneys general of the Republican Party in Louisiana and Missouri, along with five social media users, filed the underlying lawsuit, claiming that U.S. government officials went too far in what they characterize as pressuring social media companies to publish messages, especially those related to Covid-19. Individual plaintiffs include opponents of Covid-19 lockdowns and Jim Hoft, the owner of the right-wing Gateway Pundit website.

They argue that the government's actions violated the protection of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"This is the worst violation of the First Amendment in our country's history. We look forward to striking down Joe Biden's massive censorship initiative in the nation's highest court," Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on Friday.

A spokesperson for the Washington Attorney General's Office declined to comment.

The lawsuit raises various claims about activity that took place in 2020 and earlier, including efforts to curb the spread of false information about Covid-19 and presidential elections. Donald Trump was president at the time, but the district court's decision was focused on actions taken by the government after President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.

Judge Terry Doughty, appointed by Trump, issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited government officials from "communicating in any way with social media companies, their employees, or others with whom they are working, about the requirement, suggestion, or encouragement to remove, remove, suppress, or shorten any content that violates protected freedom of speech." The ruling also covered a broader range of people than just the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit later narrowed the scope of Doughty's injunction. But the appeals court still required the White House, FBI, and top health officials not to "coerce or incentivize" social media companies to remove content that the Biden administration deems disinformation.

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to fully freeze Doughty's decision.

In court papers, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that Doughty's ruling was an "unprecedented injunction" that "flouts fundamental principles of federalism and comity and clashes with the basic structure of our government."

"The district court imposed an extraordinary and unwarranted burden on the government by prohibiting high-level officials across multiple agencies from speaking with or to a range of social media platforms and providers," she added.

Prelogar said the initial ban was "breathtakingly broad," saying it "extends to thousands of federal officials and employees and applies to communications with all social media platforms and about all social media content."


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