Supreme Court Rules with Biden Administration in Social Media Case

In a 6-3 decision, the majority found that the plaintiffs lacked standing.

Supreme Court Rules with Biden Administration in Social Media Case
Photo of Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett from the White House

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2024 – The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the government can ask social media companies to take down misleading content, reversing a Fifth Circuit decision.

The case was brought by two states, Missouri and Louisiana, and a group of social media users, including the founder of the far-right news site The Gateway Pundit. They alleged that in 2021 and 2022, the Biden administration coerced social media platforms like Facebook and X (called Twitter at the time) into taking down COVID and election misinformation, in violation of the First Amendment.

A panel of judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government’s requests to moderate such content amounted to unconstitutional pressure, but the Supreme Court found in a 6-3 decision that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case in the first place.

“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,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote for the majority. “This Court’s standing doctrine prevents us from ‘exercis[ing such] general legal oversight’ of the other branches of Government.”

In addition to Barrett, the majority included the court’s three liberal justices – Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor – plus conservatives Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch, all conservatives, issued a joint dissent.

“For months, high-ranking Government officials placed unrelenting pressure on Facebook to suppress Americans’ free speech,” Altio wrote for the minority. "Because the Court unjustifiably refuses to address this serious threat to the First Amendment, I respectfully dissent."

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