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Musk and Shellenberger Shine Spotlight on Big Question in Wake of Biden Censorship Decision

Joe Biden and his administration got smacked down with a federal court finding that the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment by censoring content it didn’t like on social media and pressuring social media companies to remove certain posts during the pandemic. It issued an injunction preventing various federal persons and agencies from discouraging or removing First Amendment-protected speech.

The ruling prohibits specific federal officials and agencies, including members of Biden’s Cabinet like Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Jean-Pierre herself, from engaging in meetings aimed at suppressing speech with social media companies. The prohibited contact is specifically for government actors engaging in contact with “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech” under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

In a sharp rebuke of the Biden administration, Judge Terry A. Doughty said that the “United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’” He also noted that the government’s actions “almost exclusively targeted conservative speech.” He issued his decision, perhaps appropriately, on the Fourth of July.

How invested is the Biden team in these actions that the judge called likely violations of the First Amendment? They’re now fighting the decision. They’ve filed a notice of appeal and are also reportedly seeking to stop the injunction during the appeal process so they can continue their actions during the appeal.

In the wake of the decision, journalist Michael Shellenberger and Twitter owner Elon Musk got everyone’s attention when they pointed out something in a Washington Post coverage of the decision.

“Experts said yesterday’s anti-censorship court ruling was too badly written to be implemented, but it’s already working,” Shellenberger explained. “The State Department today canceled its regular Wednesday meeting with Facebook, and all future meetings, “pending further guidance.”

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. “Regular Wednesday meeting with Facebook.” Exactly why are they having a “regular Wednesday meeting”? Isn’t that the problem right there — an indicator that the government has a far too cozy relationship with social media companies pressuring them to censor posts?

Musk asked a great question: “I wonder what goes at the ‘regular Wednesday meeting'[?]”

Shellenberger responded with a great example of the Biden administration’s interaction with social media from the decision.

As Shellenberger pointed out, this was a great decision, but we still have a long way to go to clean up the mess. It isn’t up to the government to dictate to us what the “truth” is, but this is what they were trying to do with this effort.

The fact that the Biden State Department canceled the “regular Wednesday meeting” says everything too. They were supposedly going to talk about “2024 election preparations and hacking threats.” The prohibition is only on contact that would be urging or encouraging the censorship of protected free speech. So if they’re worried about having the meeting, they must think that what they’re doing in that meeting could be interpreted as that.

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