U.S. Supreme Court Stays Preliminary Injunction Entered Against Certain Federal Officials and Agencies

On May 5, 2022, plaintiffs – the States of Missouri and Louisiana as well as various private parties – filed suit against the President and various federal agencies and officials, alleging that popular social media platforms had either blocked plaintiffs’ use of the platforms or “downgraded” their posts regarding certain controversial issues. On July 4, 2022, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against various Executive Branch agencies and officials prohibiting them from coercing social media companies to engage in censorship or controlling those companies’ decisions about the content posted on their platforms.

The injunction was slightly modified on October 3, 2023 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit such that the injunction provided that certain federal officials (1) could not “coerce” social media platforms to make “content moderation decisions” and (2) not meaningfully control social media platforms’ “content-moderation efforts.”

The government filed an emergency application to the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the effect of the injunction pending certiorari and, on October 20, 2023, in a 6-3 decision (with Justices Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch dissenting), the Supreme Court granted the stay and treated the stay application as a petition for certiorari. The Court’s decision specifies that the stay would terminate upon “the sending down of the judgment of this Court.”

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For any question relating to this article, please contact Robert B. Nussbaum, Esq. at Saiber LLC.