(LifeSiteNews) — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals curtailed the ability of the federal government to work together with Big Tech companies to censor free speech.
The September 8 ruling forbids President Joe Biden’s team from using companies such as Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter, to act as a censor to advance his agenda and prevent speech that questions the safety and efficacy of COVID shots or raises concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election.
In one instance, a Biden staffer quickly convinced Instagram to remove an account that parodied Dr. Anthony Fauci. Plaintiffs included silenced contrarians, such as Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff.
As previously reported by LifeSiteNews, one batch of emails released as part of the lawsuit found that Biden officials and Big Tech regularly met to discuss areas of censorship. One email from a Facebook employee to two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staffers asked about setting up a monthly “misinfo/debunking” meeting “in addition to our weekly meetings.”
The revealed information contribution to an injunction to prevent the Biden-Big Tech collusion. The September 8 ruling resulted in a modified prohibition.
“Defendants, and their employees and agents, shall take no actions, formal or informal, directly or indirectly, to coerce or significantly encourage social-media companies to remove, delete, suppress, or reduce, including through altering their algorithms, posted social-media content containing protected free speech,” a new injunction against some Biden officials now states.
“That includes, but is not limited to, compelling the platforms to act, such as by intimating that some form of punishment will follow a failure to comply with any request, or supervising, directing, or otherwise meaningfully controlling the social-media companies’ decision-making processes,” the injunction continues.
Those officials include the Surgeon General and the White House, which were guilty of “coercive” statements, according to the three-judge panel.
The ruling also cited the FBI and the CDC for encouraging social media censorship.
“In short, when the platforms acted, they did so in response to the FBI’s inherent authority and based on internal policies influenced by FBI officials,” the opinion stated. “Taking those facts together, we find the platforms’ decisions were significantly encouraged and coerced by the FBI.”
Similarly, officials at the CDC “likely significantly encouraged the platforms’ moderation decisions, meaning they violated the First Amendment” but the “requests for removal were not coercive.”
The court ruled the district judge erred when he cited Dr. Anthony Fauci’s team for violating the First Amendment as well as the State Department.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance, which represented plaintiffs in this case, praised the ruling for generally protecting the First Amendment.
“In an unprecedented, historic decision, the Fifth Circuit has recognized that the conduct of the White House, CDC, Surgeon General, and FBI violated Americans’ First Amendment rights,” attorney Jenin Younes stated. “The government cannot coerce or encourage social media companies to censor views it dislikes. This decision vindicates the Plaintiffs’ rights and protects the free speech of all Americans.”
“The New Civil Liberties Alliance celebrates this landmark victory for our clients, Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff and Aaron Kheriaty, and Ms. Jill Hines,” the group stated. “At the government’s request, the Fifth Circuit stayed the order for 10 days to give the government time to petition for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“The Biden Administration’s years-long censorship campaign has suppressed perspectives contradicting government-approved views on hotly disputed topics like whether natural immunity to Covid-19 exists, Covid-19 vaccine concerns, the virus’s origins, and mask mandate efficacy,” the group stated.
“The vast, coordinated censorship campaign has silenced public voices including influential doctors and scientists. Drs. Bhattacharya, Kulldorff and Kheriaty, and Ms. Hines have all been blacklisted, shadow-banned, de-boosted, throttled, and censored on social media.”