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Justices Appear to Favor Biden Admin in First Amendment Case: 'How Much Did the Government Push?'

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court kicked off the week with a major case challenging the strength of the First Amendment in the internet age.  The justices heard arguments on whether or not the federal government can encourage social media platforms to remove posts that government officials consider to be misinformation.  
Justices appeared skeptical of claims that the Biden administration went too far in encouraging social media platforms to moderate controversial content. They specifically addressed topics related to COVID-19 and election security. 

'Most Important Free Speech Case in Our Lifetime': Supreme Court Hears Biden Censorship Case

"Some might say the government has a duty to take steps to protect the citizens of this country, and you seem to be suggesting that that duty cannot manifest itself in the government encouraging or even pressuring platforms to take down harmful information," noted Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during the oral arguments. 
Attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri joined five individuals in suing the Biden administration for violating their First Amendment free speech rights. They argued the federal government coerced social media platforms to suppress conservative voices by taking down posts deemed misleading.
"Pressuring platforms in backrooms shielded from public view is not using the bully pulpit at all. That's just being a bully," argued Benjamin Aguinaga, Solicitor General of Louisiana.
While lower courts sided with the states, the Justices seemed to favor the Biden administration. 
"Something factually inaccurate about what the U.S. troops are doing, you should take that down, it is factually inaccurate, it is harming the war effort, it is not accurate," said Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Brad Jacob from Regent University says the heart of this case depends on whether or not the federal government took part in coercion. 
"I think that's really the whole issue - was this just a gentle, 'Hey, we'd like you to kind of…' encouragement, or was this, 'You better do this or you're going to be in trouble,' with maybe implicit sanctions?" questioned Jacob. "How much did the government push is really at the issue?"
He adds another key is that social media companies are privately owned and operated. 
"My guess is that the court is going to largely position itself as saying social media is private business," he continued. "It doesn't have to respect the First Amendment. If you don't like the way Twitter, X, moderates your speech then don't use that platform."
Lisa Macpherson from Public Knowledge believes federal agencies and social media platforms should be able to collaborate as long as the effort doesn't cross a line.
"The more clearly the court can help us understand where that line is, the more we can make sure that content moderation happens in the public interest, but doesn't step over the line and start to impinge on First Amendment freedoms," Macpherson told CBN News.
The Biden administration argues they do not use coercive threats to control platforms' editorial content.  There's also been no punishment if or when companies declined to moderate flagged content. A ruling is expected in June. 

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About The Author


Abigail Robertson serves as the White House Correspondent for CBN News, where she has worked since 2015. As a reporter, Abigail covers stories from a Christian perspective on American politics and the news of the day. Before her role at the White House, Abigail covered Capitol Hill, where she interviewed notable lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. During her time on the Hill, Abigail loved highlighting how God is moving in the House and Senate by covering different ministries on Capitol Hill and sharing lawmakers’ testimonies and