On Tuesday, a federal appeals court expanded a previously-issued injunction against the Biden Administration’s attempts to collude with Big Tech companies on censoring conservative accounts.
As reported by the Daily Caller, the Fifth Circuit withdrew its previous decision to issue a new, broader injunction. Determining that several federal agencies were left out of the original decision, the new ruling includes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), after finding that CISA had also committed First Amendment violations through its actions. Agencies and entities that had already been listed include the White House, the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Surgeon General’s office.
“Like the CDC for COVID-related claims, CISA told the platforms whether certain election related claims were true or false,” said the judges in their revised decision. “CISA’s actions apparently led to moderation policies being altered and content being removed or demoted by the recipient platforms.”
CISA had operated “switchboards” ahead of the 2020 election that were responsible for allowing state and local officials to report content considered to be “misinformation” to the social media companies, with the intent of getting them censored or banned.
The ruling was celebrated by the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), which represents the four private plaintiffs in the case. Jenin Younes, lead counsel for the NCLA, said that the court “revised its assessment of CISA’s conduct, finding this time that it went beyond ‘mere information sharing.’”
“While we’re pleased that the Fifth Circuit recognized its initial factual analysis was flawed, we believe that the legal analysis is still not correct,” Younes continued. “The Fifth Circuit’s requirement for a finding of state action—that the government ‘coerced’ or ‘significantly encouraged’ the companies to censor disfavored viewpoints—excludes entwinement and joint participation, which should also be bases for finding that the government’s conduct was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”
The Biden Administration had previously requested a stay on the appeals court’s first ruling, at which point the Supreme Court issued a temporary pause on September 27th, which eventually expired. The Fifth Circuit issued another order on September 26th requesting a response to a petition to rehear the case for the purpose of expanding the injunction.
CISA has denied any wrongdoing, with spokesman Brandon Wales declaring that the agency “does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship.”