The Biden administration said a court ruling limiting how it can contact social media sites could cause “grave harm,” as the administration attempts to appeal the decision.
The administration filed a motion Thursday to stay the preliminary injunction, ruled on Tuesday. The injunction sides with Republican attorneys general who claim that the contact puts undue pressure on those companies’ freedom of speech.
The Justice Department (DOJ) already announced that it will appeal to the motion on Wednesday.
In the motion, Biden administration attorneys say the contact between the executive branch and social media platforms “includes speaking on matters of public concern and working with social media companies on initiatives to prevent grave harm to the American people and our democratic processes.”
If the administration’s motion is granted, the injunction would be halted pending the DOJ appeal.
The original suit was brought by the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri, who called the contact a “campaign of censorship” and accused the administration of a “coordinated and colluded with social-media platforms to identify disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content.”
The group specifically cited actions by the Biden administration to counter COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and efforts to promote election integrity.
Under the current injunction, executive branch officials can only contact social media companies about criminal activity, national security threats and posts “intending to mislead voters about voting requirements and procedures.”
Administration attorneys call the injunction “both sweeping in scope and vague in its terms” in the filing. They also noted that the contact with the platforms at question in the suit was more than a year old, calling into question whether an injunction is necessary at all.
Under the wording of the injunction, employees of DOJ, the Department of Health and Human Services and other executive agencies are barred from contacting social media companies. Those agencies have hundreds of thousands of employees making the order much too broad, the administration argues.
Critics of the injunction agreed with the administration, including former Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder who called it “stupid” and “potentially dangerous.”