A U.S. District Court is allowing a Texas case that accuses the federal government of censoring conservative media companies.

Attorney General Ken Paxton first filed the case alongside The Daily Wire, The Federalist, and New Civil Liberties Alliance in December 2023 in reaction to fallout from the administration’s Global Engagement Center.

According to the plaintiffs, the center was only authorized to target foreign misinformation but actively worked to censor, deplatform, and demonetize domestic media companies like The Daily Wire and The Federalist.

“The Biden Administration made a reprehensible attempt to censor the American press with funding intended to monitor foreign propaganda, aiming to repress viewpoints the federal government disagreed with,” stated Paxton in an accompanying press release.

“Abusing taxpayer money, Biden repurposed a government agency into a censorship apparatus,” he continued. “It must stop, and I am proud to lead the Nation’s fight to save the First Amendment.”

Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas wrote in his 36-page order on Tuesday that plaintiffs had, thus far, sufficiently argued they had standing to challenge the U.S. Department of State.

“Here, Texas alleges that its injury is the predictable result of Defendants’ deliberate efforts to market and promote the censorship tools and technologies to social media platforms,” explained Kernodle. “The Court agrees.”

Kernodle specifically noted plaintiffs alleged the GEC conspired with social media companies in 2019 to push the censorship technology “Disinfo Cloud,” which included input from media-rating companies like the Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard.

Both GDI and NewsGuard, frequently used by advertisers to gauge ad placement, have been exposed in studies by the Media Research Center for disproportionately targeting conservatives.

A 2023 study, for example, showed that NewsGuard gave left-leaning outlets an average rating of 91 out of 100 while right-leaning outlets boasted an average rating of just 65.

GDI was caught urging advertisers to drop outlets alleging COVID-19 resulted from a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. That theory is now seriously considered by U.S. officials.

Plaintiffs wrote in their initial complaint that the GEC’s alleged Disinfo Cloud resulted in right-leaning outlets being branded as “unreliable,” thus “starving them of advertising revenue and reducing the circulation of their reporting and speech.”

“The State Department uses its Global Engagement Center … to finance the development and promotion of censorship technology and enterprises, including organizations like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index,” commented Daily Wire host and co-founder Ben Shapiro.

The Biden administration has argued that Paxton’s case seeks to overturn a 2021 injunction blocking the enforcement of Texas House Bill 20 of the 87th Legislature’s second special session.

HB 20, which prohibits social media platforms from censoring based on users’ viewpoints, is currently blocked as the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the accompanying case.

Several reports in February detailed that Supreme Court justices appeared split after hearing arguments about the HB 20 Texas case and a similar one in Florida regarding its own social media regulation measure.

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.