Controversial injunction against Biden hands Disney 'open and shut' case against DeSantis: legal expert

Controversial injunction against Biden hands Disney 'open and shut' case against DeSantis: legal expert
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Nebraska Steak Fry in Nebraska City, Nebraska (Wikimedia Commons)
A highly-controversial injunction against the Biden administration from a Trump-appointed federal judge could be mean Disney’s First Amendment lawsuit against Florida GOP governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is a “solid” and “open and shut” case, according to a top law professor and civil rights attorney.

On July 4, the Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, Terry Doughty, blocked the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other federal entities, from working with social media companies to combat posts on a wide range of topics, from child pornography to election, COVID, and vaccine misinformation.

The Washington Post reports the injunction bars “key Biden administration agencies and officials from meeting and communicating with social media companies about ‘protected speech,’ in an extraordinary preliminary injunction in an ongoing case that could have profound effects on the First Amendment.” It comes in response to a lawsuit from Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri.

“The Donald Trump-appointed judge’s move could undo years of efforts to enhance coordination between the government and social media companies. For more than a decade, the federal government has attempted to work with social media companies to address criminal activity, including child sexual abuse images and terrorism,” the Post reports.

READ MORE: Trump Unleashes Another Call for Americans to Come Out and ‘Protest’

“The injunction is strikingly broad and clearly intended to chill any kind of contact between government actors and social media platforms,” Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School, told the Post.

In December of 2021, as deaths from COVID-19 hit 800,000 in the U.S., ahead of an expected post-holiday spike, Judge Doughty blocked President Biden’s mandate requiring healthcare workers be vaccinated against the deadly disease. To do so, the judge cited “the claims of a doctor who falsely said that the Covid-19 vaccine was not effective in preventing transmission of the disease,” as CNN reported.

Last year, Judge Doughty blocked President Biden’s vaccine mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers at Head Start programs, which help children 3-5 years of age, and their families. Studies show a majority of families that contracted COVID did so via children. One study, published by the University of Minnesota, “suggests that 70.4% of nearly 850,000 US household COVID-19 transmissions originated with a child.” It also found younger children “more likely to spread” the virus.

Judge Doughty’s injunction blocking the Biden administration from communicating with social media companies is being widely criticized.

“It engages in dangerous censorship in the name of fighting censorship. It must be challenged in the name of the First Amendment. No competent lawyer could defend it. And the states that won this relief lack Article III standing anyway!” writes University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Laurence Tribe, the noted constitutional scholar.

“Censoring a broad swath of vital communications between government and social media platforms in the name of combating censorship makes a mockery of the first amendment,” he adds, and calls it “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Former FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Assistant Director Pete Strzok calls Judge Doughty’s injunction “an ourobouros of conspiracy clusterfuckery,” with “the judge adding himself – and his office – to the narrative.”

READ MORE: ‘Crisis’: Expert Calls SCOTUS ‘Illegitimate’ and Warns Its ‘Judicial Terrorists’ Are a ‘Threat to Democracy’

“The transcripts of the government deponents in the case,” he adds, “feature a walking QAnon DeepState conspiracy-fest by some of the plaintiff’s attorneys.”

Meanwhile, civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation, and a professor of law at Howard University, sees one bright spot in. The injunction could be a boon for The Walt Disney Company.

Disney is suing DeSantis, alleging the company’s First Amendment free speech rights were violated as the Florida governor repeatedly attacked and retaliated against the entertainment giant, ultimately rescinding its 50-year old “independent special district” tax and governing status after the company quietly opposed and then spoke out against his extreme “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“The evidence cited by the judge doesn’t add up to govt [government] censorship,” Ifill writes on Twitter, about the social media injunction.

“I hope that Disney is reading the decision carefully,” she adds. “Cause by this analysis they have a solid First Amend[ment] claim against Ron DeSantis. Open & shut.”

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