Biden Says Not Allowing Government Censorship Will Cause ‘Irreparable Harm’

Not being allowed to pressure social media platforms to censor people causes the federal government “irreparable harm” and goes against the public interest, President Joe Biden’s administration argued Friday.  

Clair McFarland

July 07, 20234 min read

Biden and social media 7 7 23
(Getty Images)

Not being allowed to pressure social media platforms to censor people causes the federal government “irreparable harm” and goes against the public interest, President Joe Biden’s administration argued Friday.  

Biden’s White House and numerous federal bureaus asked Louisiana U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty on Friday to stay, or pause, his sweeping July 4 preliminary injunction banning the government from pressuring social media platforms to censor protected speech.  

Doughty’s order contained carveouts allowing the federal government to warn platforms about criminal speech, domestic threats and other imminent dangers.  

‘Irreparable Harm’ 

Biden petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to block Doughty’s order.  

Then on Friday, Biden urged Doughty to pause his own order while the appeal proceeds, or for at least seven days while the Fifth Circuit acquaints itself with the issue.  

The federal government and the American people will suffer if Doughty’s order persists, Biden argued.  

“The Government faces irreparable harm with each day the injunction remains in effect,” says the Friday filing. “The injunction’s broad scope and ambiguous terms — including a lack of clarity with respect to what the injunction does not prohibit — may be read to prevent the Government from engaging in a vast range of lawful and responsible conduct.”  

A stay is appropriate, Biden's administration claims, because this injunction is "an improper intrusion by a federal court into the workings of a coordinate branch of government."

The irreparable harm Doughty’s order can cause the government outweighs “any risk of injury” to the plaintiffs. This makes Doughty’s order cut against the public interest, the filing alleges.  

The plaintiffs suing the bureau are:  

  • The state of Missouri
  • The state of Louisiana
  • Dr. Jay Battacharaya, a professor of health policy at Stanford School of Medicine
  • Dr. Martin Kulldorf, a Cornell-educated epidemiologist who formerly taught medicine at Harvard
  • Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington
  • Jim Hoft, founder and owner of news site The Gateway Pundit, based in Missouri
  • Jill Hines, co-director of Health Freedom Louisiana and founder of Reopen Louisiana

All of them allege that they were flagged, deplatformed or suppressed by the government, especially while criticizing the government’s responses to COVID-19 and its aggressive advocacy of the virus’ newly developed vaccines.  

Many of the tech giants’ suppression efforts went beyond their policies against misinformation, Doughty’s order says. Facebook in particular fought to stay in the White House’s “good graces.”  

Government Says It’s Likely To Win 

The federal government has shown a likelihood of winning the case, it claims in the Friday request for stay, adding that the plaintiffs may not have standing or enough evidence to prove an unlawful First Amendment violation.  

But this opinion contradicts directly Judge Doughty’s opinion that the plaintiffs, rather, have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the case.  

“Although the censorship alleged in this case almost exclusively targeted conservative speech, the issues raised herein go beyond party lines,” wrote Doughty in a memorandum accompanying his Independence Day injunction. “The right to free speech is not a member of any political party and does not hold any political ideology.

“It is the purpose of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will  ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of the market, whether it be by government itself or private licensee.”  

The government didn’t stop at policing the COVID-19 narrative, Doughty wrote.  

“It also asked social media companies to censor misinformation regarding climate change, gender discussions, abortion, and economic policy,” reads the memorandum. 

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter