The Justice Department is appealing a judge’s order prohibiting various Biden administration agencies and officials from communicating with social media companies about certain content.
The department on Wednesday notified a court that it plans to appeal the preliminary injunction – issued Tuesday by Trump-appointed US District Judge Terry Doughty – to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which is arguably the nation’s most conservative appeals court.
CNN previously reported that Doughty’s injunction orders a slew of federal agencies and more than a dozen top officials not to communicate with social media companies about taking down “content containing protected free speech” that’s posted on the platforms.
Doughty’s order applies to agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Justice Department and FBI, as well as officials such as US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
While the injunction notes that the government can still communicate with the companies as part of efforts to curb illegal activity and address national security threats, the agencies and officials are prohibited from “specifically flagging content or posts on social-media platforms.”
The injunction adds that the government is also prohibited from forwarding content or posts to “social-media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
The social media companies specified in the lawsuit include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok, and WeChat, among other platforms.
The order is part of a lawsuit brought by Republican attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana in 2022 that accuses the Biden administration of effectively silencing conservatives by leaning on the social media companies to take down online misinformation about Covid-19.
Following the order, a White House official on Tuesday defended the administration’s communication with social media companies, saying it “has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges.”
“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,” the White House official said.
CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich contributed to this report.