Supreme Court Rules Feds’ ‘Misinformation’ Talks With Social Media Platforms Did Not Violate First Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Biden administration and federal agencies did not violate the First Amendment when pressuring social media companies to remove what they perceived to be misinformation during the COVID pandemic and 2020 election.

The Court struck down a lawsuit, in a 6-3 vote, against the White House over its efforts to curtail Covid-19 misinformation, which the administration alleges was spread across social media platforms.

“To establish standing, the plaintiffs must demonstrate a substantial risk that, in the near future, they will suffer an injury that is traceable to a Government defendant and redressable by the injunction they seek.  Because no plaintiff has carried that burden, none has standing to seek a preliminary injunction,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett said, who wrote the opinion for the majority.

The plaintiffs, which included two red states and five social media, no longer have legal standing to pursue a case against federal officials over their communications with the platforms, on the basis of First Amendment violations.

The decision allows the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other federal agencies to continue to flag misinformation posts on social media platforms to the companies themselves, in an effort to have them removed.

“Without proof of an ongoing pressure campaign, it is entirely speculative that the platforms’ future moderation decisions will be attributable, even in part, to,” the government officials who were named as defendants, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote in the majority opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson were in the 6-3 majority.

The lawsuit launched in 2022 by Republican officials in Missouri and Louisiana alongside five social media users, argued that the Biden administration overreached when attempting to have deceptive posts removed from the platforms. The plaintiffs also highlighted the suppression of coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop in 2020 as evidence of unconstitutional influence.

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