News Briefs

Biden administration requests U.S. Supreme Court block order curbing social media contact

By: - September 14, 2023 12:06 pm

A view of the front portico of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

The federal government on Thursday requested the U.S. Supreme Court block an order restricting it from communicating with social media companies about posts spreading misinformation.

President Joe Biden’s administration filed a petition arguing that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this month is an example of judicial overreach that would “impose grave and irreparable harms on the government and the public.”

The Supreme Court should block the injunction from going into effect while the justices decide whether to hear the case, the federal government argues, signaling a plan to appeal the 5th Circuit’s decision.

Hours after the request, Justice Samuel Alito granted a stay until Sept. 22.

Earlier this month, an appeals court in Louisiana concluded the Biden administration “ran afoul of the First Amendment” by trying to suppress social media posts that it considered misinformation.

The Biden administration argues the appeals court erred by failing to distinguish between “persuasion” and “coercion.” Social media companies were asked to remove posts considered to be harmful misinformation, the filing states, but the federal government never forced them to do so.

“(The appeals court) held that officials from the White House, the Surgeon General’s office and the FBI coerced social-media platforms to remove content despite the absence of even a single instance in which an official paired a request to remove content with a threat of adverse action,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the court filing.

The lawsuit was filed last year by former Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. It alleges the federal government colluded with social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to suppress the freedom of speech.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.