Supreme Court To Decide If Feds Overstepped With Censorship

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 18 on whether the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority in pressuring social media companies to crack down on “misinformation” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case, which could have a significant impact on how much power the federal government has to control online content, was initiated in 2022 by the Republican attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana.

According to an Associated Press report posted to X, the justices seemed broadly skeptical during nearly two hours of arguments that a lawyer for Louisiana, Missouri and other parties presented accusing officials in the Biden administration of leaning on the social media platforms to unconstitutionally squelch particular points of view.

According to a report by The Hill, a Louisiana federal judge initially sided with the attorneys general and barred Federal officials from contacting social media companies relating to any manner regarding the removal, deletion, suppression or reduction of content containing protected free speech.

A few months later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed that judge’s order while still agreeing that the Biden administration likely did violate the First Amendment by urging social media companies to take down specific content.

The Supreme Court is now tasked with drawing a line between government speech that is acceptable and speech that coerces private entities into doing the government’s bidding. Biden’s Justice Department has argued that barring talk between federal officials and social media companies limits the government’s ability to address matters of public concern.

Rick Moran in a column posted at PJ Media said, “This whole idea of the government ‘moderating’ speech on the internet makes my skin crawl. If someone wants to post that COVID-19 was a government plot to control people, we’re all big enough to dismiss or accept that argument on our own. We don’t need the government telling us whether it’s truth or fiction.”

Moran said one of the real problems with the censorship, in this case, is that a lot of what the government ended up urging social media companies to censor was, in fact, alternative viewpoints that turned out in many cases to be accurate.