A federal court ordered an injunction on a top agency within the Department of Homeland Security after finding that it likely violated the First Amendment by coordinating with social media companies to effectively censor ‘election-related speech.’
On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals extended the scope of an injunction in place that limits the Biden administration’s communication with big tech companies to include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security.
According to GOP Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who is leading the litigation against the Biden administration, CISA is the ‘nerve center’ of the White House’s ‘vast censorship enterprise’ and ‘the very entity that worked with the FBI to silence the Hunter Biden laptop story.’
‘CISA was created to protect Americans from foreign attack, and now it has begun targeting its own citizens,’ Bailey told Fox News Digital.
A three-judge panel determined in the court order that CISA was the ‘primary facilitator’ of the FBI’s interactions with the social-media platforms and worked in close coordination with the FBI to push the platforms to change their moderation policies to cover ‘hack-and-leak’ content.
The opinion describes CISA’s ‘switchboarding’ operations as ‘merely relaying flagged social-media posts from state and local election officials to the platforms.’ But the judge said that ‘in reality, the practice is ended up being ‘[s]omething more,” the order reads.
‘CISA used its frequent interactions with social-media platforms to push them to adopt more restrictive policies on censoring election-related speech. And CISA officials affirmatively told the platforms whether the content they had ‘switchboarded’ was true or false,’ it continues.
‘Thus, when the platforms acted to censor CISA-switchboarded content, they did not do so independently. Rather, the platforms’ censorship decisions were made under policies that CISA has pressured them into adopting and based on CISA’s determination of the veracity of the flagged information. Thus, CISA likely significantly encouraged the platforms’ content-moderation decisions and thereby violated the First Amendment,’ the judges said.
The injunction stems from a lawsuit brought by Missouri and Louisiana attorneys general against the Biden administration that accused high-ranking government officials of working with giant social media companies ‘under the guise of combating misinformation’ that ultimately led to censoring speech on topics, including Hunter Biden’s laptop, COVID-19 origins and the efficacy of face masks.
The attorneys general deposed several officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan. On July 4, federal Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Fifth Circuit ordered the first injunction, which prevents White House officials and federal agencies from meeting with tech companies about social media censorship, arguing that such actions likely violated the First Amendment.
The scathing Independence Day injunction said the government’s actions during the pandemic were akin to ‘an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.”
‘If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,’ the injunction continues. ‘In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech.’
The Justice Department has appealed the court order to the Supreme Court, arguing that the government faced ‘irreparable harm’ because Doughty’s order may prevent the federal government from ‘working with social media companies on initiatives to prevent grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes.’