Supreme Court Green-Lights Government Censorship of Free Speech

June 27, 2024
First Liberty Insider | Supreme Court Free Speech Ruling

Logan Tantibanchanchai • 4 min read

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an alarming opinion in Murthy v. Missouri, a major case dealing with government involvement in social media censorship. While primarily about free speech, the ruling could affect religious freedom and people of faith who express their beliefs in the digital space.

In a 6-3 ruling in favor of the Biden administration, the Supreme Court struck down a lower court’s injunction that prohibited the federal government from pressuring Big Tech companies to suppress free speech.

The ruling rejected a challenge from two states and five social media users who argued that White House Officials and various federal employees illegally pressured social media companies to take down posts that the U.S. government deems “misleading.”

The states—Missouri and Louisiana—argued that White House communications staffers, the surgeon general, the FBI, and the U.S. cybersecurity agency applied “unrelenting pressure” to coerce changes in online content on social media platforms.

The Court, however, did not rule on the central question of whether the government may suppress speech through pressuring social media companies. Instead, the Court held that the states and social media users did not establish standing to bring forth the case.

“We begin—and end—with standing,” wrote Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority opinion. “At this stage, neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established standing to seek injunction against any defendant. We therefore lack jurisdiction to reach the merits of the dispute.”

Justice Barrett’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined.

In his dissenting opinion, Alito wrote that if the lower courts’ assessments of censorship are correct, then “this is one of the most important free speech cases to reach this Court in years.”

“I assume that a fair portion of what social media users had to say about COVID–19 and the pandemic was of little lasting value. Some was undoubtedly untrue or mis-leading, and some may have been downright dangerous. But we now know that valuable speech was also suppressed. That is what inevitably happens when entry to the marketplace of ideas is restricted,” said Alito.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, however, said the ruling cleared the way for further discovery to counter censorship efforts.

Make no mistake. This decision could have massive implications for the First Amendment rights of Americans, including those who express and display their religious beliefs online.

This is more evidence that the fight for religious freedom is far from over. First Liberty will continue to defend and fight for Americans so they can freely live out and express their faith without being censored.

Read More:

Wall Street Journal: A Supreme Court License for Social-Media Censorship

New York Post: Supreme Court rules in favor of Biden admin in Big Tech censorship case; Alito warns ‘country may come to regret’ ruling in fiery dissent 

The Daily Signal: Americans’ Right to Speak Suffers a Body Blow From Supreme Court

The Federalist: SCOTUS Green-Lights Feds’ Big Tech Censorship Scheme Ahead of 2024 Election

The Daily Citizen: Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Government-Backed Social Media Censorship

National Review: The Supreme Court Gives Biden a Mulligan for Stifling Free Speech

Americans must take a bold stand for faith. We can’t allow the government to silence the voices of people of faith.

And right now, you can make sure the government hears your voice loud and clear by taking advantage of First Liberty’s $500,000 Challenge Grant.

When you give by June 30th, your gift will have a multiplied impact in the fight for faith.

Will you stand with First Liberty against faith-based censorship?

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