“The government must be allowed to seek to persuade people of its views”
In response to efforts to stop the government from censoring the speech of people it opposes, the censors keep arguing that they have the free speech right to censor. Here’s how I originally described it.
When Judge Terry Doughty issued an injunction in Missouri v. Biden that banned the government from “specifically flagging content or posts on social-media platforms and/or forwarding such to social-media companies urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner for removal, deletion, suppression”, all hell broke loose.
Laurence Tribe, a lefty constitutional law professor, co-authored an op-ed complaining that the injunction “seems to maintain that the government cannot even politely ask companies not to publish verifiable misinformation.”
“The First Amendment certainly doesn’t prevent them from merely asking,” Tribe contends, and preventing the government from doing so “would turn the Constitution’s protection of free expression in an open society into an obstacle course for some of the most valuable exchanges of information and ideas we can imagine.” The most valuable exchanges of ideas apparently involve asking social media monopolies to take down content mocking the president.
The Biden administration has doubled down on Tribe’s argument that it has the right to “persuade” companies to censor.
In a filing Tuesday evening with the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the administration argued that a lower court judge’s July 4 decision was overly broad and would hurt the government’s ability to fight misinformation on platforms in a crisis.
“The government cannot punish people for expressing different views,” lawyers for U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration wrote. “But there is a categorical, well-settled distinction between persuasion and coercion. The government must be allowed to seek to persuade people of its views, even where those views are the subject of controversy.”
If the government wants to persuade people of anything, it should speak to them. Talking behind their backs to monopolies with vast censorship powers and then ‘persuading’ them to use those powers to censor its opponents is a violation of the First Amendment.
Persuasion is Biden giving a speech. Coercion is Biden officials telling companies what materials should be taken down. However it’s worded, it amounts to the government coordinating on removing speech against the will of the speaker.
EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.