U.S. Supreme Court says it’s OK for federal government to outsource online censorship to Big Tech, curtailing free speech of all Americans

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Wednesday in Murthy v. Missouri that challengers alleging the Biden regime colluded with social-media companies to remove content the government viewed as unfavorable did not have the legal right to sue and did not rule on the merits.

The High Court determined neither the Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general nor the five private individuals who brought the lawsuit had standing to seek an injunction against any of the government defendants.

The challengers attributed the restrictions they experienced on social media to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and dozens of other Biden administration officials from The White House, FBI, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They alleged a “coordinated campaign” between the officials and Big Tech companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to censor content dealing with opposition to government narratives about COVID-19, the validity of the 2020 election, the Hunter Biden laptop story, abortion, gender discussions, and more.

The Supreme Court noted that while the social media platforms had their own “independent incentives to moderate content,” the government was indeed influential in those choices but rejected the assertion that there was a “concrete link” between the free speech injuries and the government.

Here’s my bottom line takeaway from this case: This was a cowardly move by the Supreme Court. Six of the nine justices lack the will to decide on a major question of how speech gets regulated and censored in America. It’s done not directly but every bit as convincingly as any dictatorship. The U.S. government, because it is constrained by the Constitution’s First Amendment from limiting the speech of free Americans, that same federal government has outsourced the censorship to private social-media platforms, threatening them with the financial handouts that make running a major social media company very profitable, and then hiding behind a façade of innocence, claiming it’s not at all involved in the censorship because it extorted a third party to do its dirty work of shutting down free speech.

This amounts to a major defeat for free speech. As a result, I lament, it amounts to another nail in the coffin of our constitutional republic. I say that because the government has found an end-run around the Constitution that enables it to shut down the free flow of information in this country, and without vital information flowing to the public, enabling it to make educated electoral decisions, there is no democracy nor is there any constitutionalism. And any government that succeeds in such a devious route toward the trampling of its own Constitution, the very document meant to keep it in check, cannot be called either a democracy or a republic. We now live under a dictatorship. Full stop.

We actually saw how this devious method of government censorship already has affected at least one presidential election. In 2020, when a factual article about candidate Joe Biden’s son having incriminating evidence of crimes committed on his laptop — a story that was deliberately supressed by both social media and legacy media. Opinion polls later indicated that many Americans would not have voted for Biden had they known about this story, which was reported factually by the New York Post, a newspaper that to this day stands behind the story and has never been ruled by any court to have defamed or libeled the Biden crime family.

To rule on standing and refuse to even hear the merits of the case brought by the states of Missouri and Louisiana, shows in living color that the U.S. Supreme Court is a captured institution. The majority of its members are either too intellectually weak or they are lacking in courage to take on the biggest issue of the day right now in a country under distress — the people’s and the press’s freedom to speak out critically of their government. Without the freedom of speech and press, there is no freedom at all, because the government controls the narrative and is able to quash dissent and make a mockery of the truth. The deep state must have these six justices very afraid. And that’s not how free countries roll.

Again, it was the Trump appointees to the Supreme Court who let us down. Two of the three, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, voted with the liberals.

Justice Barrett authored the majority court opinion stating it was a “tall order” to associate government actions with the injuries or even with “a substantial risk of future injuries.”

“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,” wrote Justice Barrett.

“The plaintiffs treat the defendants as a monolith, claiming broadly that ‘“the government’” continues to communicate with the platforms about ‘“content-moderation issues,”’ continued Justice Barrett. “But we must confirm that each Government defendant continues to engage in the challenged conduct, which is ‘coercion’ and ‘significant encouragement,’ not mere “communication’… “The plaintiffs, without any concrete link between their injuries and the defendants’ conduct, ask us to conduct a review of the years-long communications between dozens of federal officials, across different agencies, with different social-media platforms, about different topics. This Court’s standing doctrine prevents us from ‘exercis[ing such] general legal oversight’ of the other branches of Government.”

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the majority opinion. Justice Alito in his dissent stated that the evidence was “more than sufficient” to establish the right to sue.

“These past and threatened future injuries were caused by and traceable to censorship that the officials coerced, and the injunctive relief [the plaintiff] sought was an available and suitable remedy,” wrote Justice Alito. “This evidence was more than sufficient to establish [the plaintiff’s] standing to sue, and consequently, we are obligated to tackle the free speech issue that the case presents. The Court, however, shirks that duty and thus permits the successful campaign of coercion in this case to stand as an attractive model for future officials who want to control what the people say, hear, and think.”

Justice Alito quoted another Supreme Court decision from earlier this month which stated that government efforts to “dictate” or “suppress” protected speech are “presumptively unconstitutional” even when it involves a “third-party intermediary.”

“As we said there, ‘a government official cannot do indirectly what she is barred from doing directly,’ and while an official may forcefully attempt to persuade, ‘[w]hat she cannot do . . . is use the power of the State to punish or suppress disfavored expression,’” wrote Justice Alito. “If the lower courts’ assessment of the voluminous record is correct, this is one of the most important free speech cases to reach this Court in years.”

Perhaps the court did leave a small crack in the door, open to a future case that would resolve its issues about the plaintiffs not having standing. But until I see another case that the Court is willing to accept, I see this as a cowardly cop out at a moment in history when we the people needed the court to make a hard stand in favor of free speech. If the Court is saying that we the people can’t sue because we lack standing under the Constitution, then who was the Constitution written for? Not we the people. Not in the eyes of the Court.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Censoring viewpoints is a direct affront to free speech and offensive to the First Amendment. Once standing can be established, this government censorship of social media will end.”

I hope Staver is right. But I think he’s being overly optimistic on what kind of message the High Court delivered today. The way I see it, we the people don’t count for anything, and this was one branch of government (judicial) agreeing with another branch of the government (executive) saying it’s OK for the government to collude with Big Tech elites in a way that shuts down free speech in America. Another nail in the coffin.

©2024. Leo Hohmann. All rights reserved.

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RELATED ARTICLE: What Today’s SCOTUS Ruling on a Temporary Injunction To Forbid Pressuring Social Media Companies To Censor Free Speech Means

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