Today, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Murthy v. Missouri, a case challenging efforts by federal officials to pressure social media companies into censoring disfavored views on their platforms. The Court also stayed the injunction issued by a federal district court in July and narrowed last month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
FIRE agrees with the Court’s decision to hear the case, identified as Missouri v. Biden in the lower courts, which raises important questions about the constitutional limits on governmental attempts to coerce private platforms into restricting speech the government doesn’t like.
To protect freedom of expression, the government’s efforts to “jawbone” private platforms into granting government officials a role in decisions about content moderation must fail. To that end, FIRE hailed the Fifth Circuit’s decision as an important victory for freedom of expression. As narrowed by the Fifth Circuit, the injunction was a well-reasoned and carefully tailored response to impermissible governmental efforts to strong-arm social media companies into censoring speech.
While FIRE disagrees with the Court’s decision to stay the injunction, we welcome the opportunity to tell the Court why the First Amendment limits the government’s power to pressure private platforms into censorship, regardless of whether that governmental pressure comes from the left or the right.