Psaki Deposition in Social Media Lawsuit Blocked by Appeals Court

Jen Psaki press

Efforts by Republican-led states to force former White House press secretary Jen Psaki to testify about the Biden administration’s efforts to urge social media platforms to bar users from posting and to take down certain kinds of posts were blocked on Thursday afternoon by a federal appeals court.

Missouri and Louisiana AGs filed last year a suit claiming that the Biden administration has been pressuring Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube so intensely that it amounted to censorship.

The three-judge appeals court panel of the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals halted by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana’s plan to question Jen Psaki in another not-so-veiled rebuke to District Court Judge Terry Doughty, who has been overseeing the suit.

According to the panel, which called for depositions of current and former senior government officials to be limited to instances where they are truly essential, Judge Doughty did not give adequate weight to longstanding legal principles.

According to the claims by the AGs and several private individuals, Psaki’s statements about encouraging social media firms to take down misinformation about Covid and election fraud are grounds to subject her to questioning.

The appeals judges Edith Clement, Leslie Southwick, and Stephen Higginson, however, sharply disagreed saying pointing out that the meaning of Psaki’s statements is apparent from the record, so no deposition is required.

Their joint order also says that there’s already ample information in the record to make baseless the plaintiffs’ demand to uncover the identities of government officials and social media platforms Psaki mentioned in her statements.

The panel expressed its belief that there is little reason to demand Psaki’s testimony in the absence of evidence that she herself was interacting with the social media firms or dictating policy considering her role was to inform the media, not to develop or execute policy or the administration’s priorities.

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