Social media companies, like other private companies, generally do not have to comply with First Amendment standards and are not named as defendants in the lawsuit. But the lawsuit argues that the Biden administration’s actions to limit public discussion of COVID-19-related content — as well as election-related disinformation and issues like Hunter Biden’s laptop — have made the corporations an extension of government.
Doughty, who lives in Monroe, Louisiana, and was nominated by former President Donald Trump, called the government’s pressure on companies « Orwellian. » But other legal experts said his ruling did not give adequate weight to the rights of Biden and others to persuade companies to limit their publication of content that officials considered objectionable.
The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday evening that it will send Doughty’s opinion and accompanying injunction to the New Orleans-based Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for review. That court is considered one of the most conservative federal appellate courts in the nation, but had previously ruled against Doughty on a pair of litigation filings by federal officials in the same dispute.
Doughty’s order limiting interaction between certain federal officials and agencies and social media companies went into effect immediately when the judge issued it on Tuesday. The Justice Department is expected to ask him shortly to issue a stay on his order to allow for the appeal. If he refuses, Justice Department attorneys are likely to go to the 5th Circuit to seek such a stay.