Supreme Court Deliberates Government’s Alleged Collusion With Big Tech

In a move that could determine the interpretation of the First Amendment in the future, the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case accusing the federal government of violating free speech rights when it encouraged social media companies to censor online dissent.

The justices on the High Court heard arguments over a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that would limit the government’s ability to interact with Big Tech companies, such as Meta, Google and X, formerly known as Twitter.

The lower court’s ruling came after a lawsuit was filed by Missouri and Louisiana as well as a couple of social media users. The decision would bar government agencies from engaging in “coercion” or “significant encouragement” of social media platforms to censor conservatives.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioned the unintended repercussions that the lower court’s injunction could have on public safety and other issues.
“Just plain, vanilla encouragement or does I have to be some kind of significant encouragement? Because encouragement would sweep in an awful lot.”

Like Barrett, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh noted that the ruling could prohibit government officials from communicating with the mainstream media even in times of distress, thereby posing a risk to national security.

Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson warned that the injunction would prevent the government from encouraging social media companies to remove content it disagrees with.

During an exchange with the lawyer representing the government, Brian H. Fletcher, Associate Justice Samuel Alito pressed the attorney about the federal government’s leverage over Big Tech because of the Biden administration’s “constant pestering.”

Alito pointed out that the federal government treats social media companies like “subordinates” in multiple communications and “has these big clubs available to it,” including law reforms dictating such platforms.

“The government is treating social media companies like their subordinates,” Alito told Fletcher.

Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk reacted to Alito’s comments on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that the First Amendment was granted to Americans through the sacrifice of past soldiers and that Democrats want to “kill” the law.

“Free Speech is our inheritance paid for by the blood of Patriots over generations, and Democrats want to kill it,” Kirk wrote.

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