Too far, Biden: Federal judge rules president can't censor our social media feeds

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Another day, another loss by President Joe Biden in federal court. It’s not a good look for the president.

Less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Biden’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness plan for its extreme overreach, he suffered another blow in court.

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a damning opinion and preliminary injunction preventing the Biden administration from meddling with social media platforms. According to the lawsuit, White House officials have worked to prevent the publication of content the government doesn't like – including information related to COVID-19 and the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

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That should be a chilling thought to any American. It certainly was to Judge Terry A. Doughty. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Doughty issued his opinion on the Fourth of July – a day we celebrate the founding of our country and the freedoms that make it great.

“Although the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech, the issues raised herein go beyond party lines,” Doughty wrote. “The right to free speech is not a member of any political party and does not hold any political ideology. It is the purpose of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of the market, whether it be by government itself or private licensee.”

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a damning opinion and preliminary injunction preventing branches of the Biden administration from meddling with social media platforms.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a damning opinion and preliminary injunction preventing branches of the Biden administration from meddling with social media platforms.

Government is not the arbiter of truth

Throughout Biden’s presidency, there have been alarming reports about how his administration has attempted to influence or coerce what is allowed on social media – and who is allowed to say it.

In 2021, Biden said platforms like Facebook were “killing people” because of alleged misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. The White House's press secretary at the time, Jen Psaki, outright said the administration was in close contact with social media companies to make sure they were properly policing content.

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Biden officials did this purportedly in the name of fighting “misinformation” and “disinformation,” but those terms are broad, and as Judge Doughty ruled, the administration’s actions are in contradiction to our First Amendment right to free speech.

The plaintiffs in the case – GOP attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri – argued that top Biden officials, through the use of emails, meetings, messages and “other means,” “significantly encouraged” and “coerced” social media platforms to limit or take down content protected by the Constitution.

That’s a clear example of the government exceeding its role and serving as the arbiter of truth. Doughty agrees.

“The evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” the judge wrote. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’ ”

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Remember the Disinformation Governance Board?

There are other examples of the Biden administration inserting itself into the decisions of private Big Tech companies. Starting in December, the Twitter Files, a multipart series, shed light on the internal workings at the company before Elon Musk bought it. One of the revelations was that the government pressured Twitter to ban thousands of accounts, including those of journalists.

Also last year, there was the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board, formed as an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, which had initial plans to work in conjunction with Twitter.

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It was short-lived because of the intense pushback from Republicans, as well as its Orwellian elements and perceived threats to free speech. The choice of Nina Jankowicz to serve as the disinformation czar also was criticized. Despite her supposed expertise, she had openly questioned whether the Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation.

In this recent court case and others, Biden officials have broadly threatened to change federal law’s Section 230, which offers online platforms immunity for content posted on their sites. Now, Biden is using combating antisemitism as a reason to do so.

Regardless of how well-meaning the intent may sound, the encroachment of government into the realm of free speech is troubling – and all Americans should be on guard against it.

USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques
USA TODAY columnist Ingrid Jacques

Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden wanted to control Facebook, Twitter feeds. A judge just said no