Supreme Court takes up landmark free speech case against Biden administration with major ramifications for censorship by big tech platforms

News & Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take up a landmark free speech case that could have major ramifications for censorship by big tech platforms.

The Supreme Court is challenging a ruling a lower court made in favor of the Biden administration.

“At this time in the history of our country, what the Court has done, I fear, will be seen by some as giving the Government a green light to use heavy-handed tactics to skew the presentation of views on the medium that increasingly dominates the dissemination of news,” Alito wrote in a 5-page opinion. “That is most unfortunate.”

CBS News reported, “The case, known as Murthy v. Missouri, stems from a suit brought by five social media users and the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana. They alleged a host of federal agencies and officials coerced social media companies to suppress speech on their platforms in violation of the First Amendment.”

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The Supreme Court said on Friday:

This application concerns an unprecedented injunction installing the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana as the superintendent of the Executive Branch’s communications with and about social-media platforms—including senior White House officials’ speech addressing some of the most salient public issues of the day. The lower courts held that federal officials had transformed the private platforms’ content-moderation decisions into state action and violated the First Amendment by urging platforms to remove COVID-19 misinformation, highlighting the risk of disinformation from foreign actors, and responding to the platforms’ inquiries about matters of public health. The courts then entered a sweeping preliminary injunction governing thousands of federal officials’ and employees’ speech concerning any content posted on any social media platform by anyone. That injunction flouts bedrock principles of Article III, the First Amendment, and equity.

Justice Sam Alito was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — who dissented from the decision to stay the injunction.

The case notes that “two lower courts found to be a ‘coordinated campaign’ by high-level federal officials to suppress the expression of disfavored views on important public issues.”

The case claims that “popular social media companies had either blocked their use of the companies’ platforms or had downgraded their posts on a host of controversial subjects, including ‘the COVID–19 lab leak theory, pandemic lockdowns, vaccine side effects, election fraud, and the Hunter Biden laptop story.'”

The case accuses federal government officials of being the ones who were “pulling the strings,” meaning that these officials “coerced, threatened, and pressured [the] social media platforms to censor [them].”

The Court of Appeals found “the district court was correct in its assessment — ‘unrelenting pressure’ from certain government officials likely ‘had the intended result of suppressing millions of protected free speech postings by American citizens.'”

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