Supreme Court Arguments: Live Announcements: White House efforts to combat disinformation face Supreme Court test

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday about whether the Biden administration violated the First Amendment in fighting what it says is misinformation on social media sites.

It's the latest in an extraordinary series of cases in which judges have had to evaluate the meaning of free speech in the Internet age.

The case arose out of a barrage of communications from administrators urging sites to remove posts on topics such as coronavirus vaccines and claims of election fraud. Last year, a federal appeals court Such interactions were severely limited.

Alex Abdo, a lawyer at Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, said the Supreme Court's review of that decision must be sensitive to two competing values, both essential to democracy.

“This is a very important case that will determine the government's power to pressure social media platforms to suppress speech,” he said. β€œIt is our hope that the Supreme Court will clarify the constitutional line between coercion and coercion. The government has no power to threaten platforms with censoring protected speech, but it must have the ability to participate in public discourse so that it can effectively govern and communicate its views to the public.

The timeline is repeatedly entangled with fundamental questions about the scope of government authority over key technology platforms. On Friday, the court set rules for when government officials can block users from their private social media accounts. Last month, the court considered the constitutionality of laws in Florida and Texas that restrict large social media companies from making editorial judgments about what messages to allow.

Those four events, along with Monday's, will collectively reshape government power and powerful tech platforms in the world of free speech.

Here's what else to know:

  • The case, Murthy v. Missouri, no. 23-411, brought by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana, Republicans and individuals who claimed their speech was censored. They do not deny that sites have the right to make independent decisions about what to feature on their sites. But they said the government officials' conduct in urging the removal of what they say is false information amounts to censorship that violates the First Amendment.

  • A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed, saying officials from the White House, the Office of the Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI may have violated constitutional provisions. Sites should be forced to remove posts flagged as misinformation. Committee, in Unsigned comment, officials were increasingly trapped on platforms or used threats to induce them to act. The panel also barred several authorities from forcing or substantially encouraging social media companies to remove content protected by the First Amendment.

  • The Biden administration filed an emergency petition in September, asking the Supreme Court to suspend the injunction, saying the government must express its views and try to persuade others to take action. “A central dimension of presidential power is the use of the bully pulpit of office to compel Americans β€” and American institutions β€” to act in ways the president believes will advance the public interest,” said Solicitor General Elizabeth P. Preloger wrote.

  • Granting the administration's application, the court agreed to stay the Fifth Circuit's ruling and hear the case. Three judges dissented. “Government censorship of private speech is antithetical to our democratic form of government, so today's decision is deeply troubling,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote, in which Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch joined.

  • The second argument on Monday raises a related constitutional question about government power and freedom of speech, though not in the context of social media platforms. Concerns whether a government official in New York violated the First Amendment by encouraging companies to stop doing business with the National Rifle Association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *