Appeals court rules Biden admin ‘ran afoul of the First Amendment’ over COVID-19

In the fight against COVID tyranny, free speech chalked up a major victory Friday as an appeals court ruled on how President Joe Biden’s administration “ran afoul of the First Amendment.”

Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty had granted a preliminary injunction barring the White House and its partisan agents from the FBI, and the CDC from “coercing” Big Tech to control social media content.

Friday, a nearly 75-page ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans upheld that determination in the case of Missouri v. Biden and gave the president’s legal team 10 days if they wished to have the matter reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who took over the case filed by his predecessor former Missouri AG Eric Schmitt, reacted on X, “The Fifth Circuit has upheld the district court’s order in our free speech case, Missouri v. Biden, enjoining the White House, Surgeon General, CDC, & FBI from violating the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans.”

America First Legal highlighted a portion of the ruling that read, “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. 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.”

Likewise, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who joined plaintiffs that included Drs. Martin Kulldorf and Jay Bhattacharya, took to social media to emphasize the importance of the victory over “totalitarianism.”

Landry posted on social media, “Fifth Circuit just unanimously affirmed Judge Doughty’s injunction against White House, CDC, FBI and others — giving Americans and #FreedomOfSpeech a major win against censorship, totalitarianism, and Biden. #FirstAmendment.”

As it happened, the original injunction had been handed down on Independence Day and slammed the Biden administration for using its “power to silence the opposition…opposition to COVID-19 vaccines; opposition to COVID-19 masking and lockdowns; opposition to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19; opposition to the validity of the 2020 election; opposition to President Biden’s policies; statements that the Hunter Biden laptop story was true; and opposition to policies of the government officials in power.”

While the three-judge panel maintained the ruling as it pertained to the White House, CDC, the FBI, and the surgeon general’s office over the likelihood they had “ran afoul of the First Amendment,” vacated from the ruling were restrictions placed on the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and State as well as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) once led by the infamous Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The Fifth Circuit found Doughty’s injunction to be “overbroad” and therefore allowed for continued communication with social media companies after voicing concern they would be prohibited from “engaging in legal conduct…Nine of the preliminary injunction’s ten prohibitions risk doing just that. Moreover, many of the provisions are duplicative of each other and thus unnecessary.”

Reacting to the ruling, a White House spokesperson told The Washington Post, “This Administration has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections. Our consistent view remains that social media platforms have a critical responsibility to take account of the effects their platforms are having on the American people, but make independent choices about the information they present.”

Kevin Haggerty

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