Trump-appointed Judge Terry A. Doughty issued a lengthy 155-page Memorandum Ruling on July 4th about a request for preliminary injunction in the case of the State of Missouri v. President Joseph R. Biden, a case about social media censorship.
The July 4th ruling indicated that the Plaintiffs had presented substantial evidence to support their claims that they were victims of a "far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign" on social media to block truthful information, for instance, about covid vaccines and masks. Judge Doughty's opinion concluded by saying that the court, "finds that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment free speech claim against the Defendants."
The injunction "prohibited the Defendants from contacting social-media companies and taking specific actions for the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner, the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms."
The Biden Administration immediately filed an appeal against the preliminary injunction on July 5, 2023, and a motion to stay on July 6, 2023.
The Defendants alleged that being prohibited from censoring free speech on social media caused them to face "irreparable harm with each day the injunction remains in effect".
Judge Doughty denied Biden's appeal on July 10, 2023.
In a 13-page statement, Judge Doughty indicated that the Plaintiffs showed a likelihood of success on the merits, and further, that the Defendants have failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits. Doughty detailed a number of examples to support the Plaintiffs likelihood of success (e.g., Surgeon General calling anti-vaccine posts "health disinformation", CDC calling statements like "COVID-19 had a 99.96% survival rate" false).
"The Defendants are asking the Court to grant them relief to a Preliminary Injunction that only bars illegal conduct. In other words, the only effect of staying the Preliminary Injunction would be to free Defendants to urge, encourage, pressure, or induce the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech on social-media platforms."Judge Terry A. Doughty
The Judge believes the Plaintiffs are likely to prove that all of the Defendants coerced, significantly encouraged, and/or otherwise helped social-media companies suppress posts that were anti-COVID vaccines, anti-lockdowns, and posts that questioned the results of the 2020 election.
These items are protected free speech, and this ruling is another massive win for free speech.