Minority warns Supremes have ‘shirked’ their duty to free speech

By Bob Unruh

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

A dissent to the Supreme Court’s pass for Joe Biden’s COVID and laptop censorship schemes, in which social media companies were pressured to allow only the information the White House wanted Americans to hear, has issued a stark warning to America after the court “shirked” its duty in the case.

The dissent, by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said, “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.”

The court statement continued, “That is regrettable. What the officials did in this case was more subtle than the ham-handed censorship found to be unconstitutional in Vullo, but it was no less coercive. And because of the perpetrators’ high positions, it was even more dangerous. It was blatantly unconstitutional, and the country may come to regret the Court’s failure to say so. Officials who read today’s decision together with Vullo will get the message. If a coercive campaign is carried out with enough sophistication, it may get by. That is not a message this Court should send.”

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The majority, a cross-party coalition of leftists and conservatives, gave tacit endorsement to Biden’s scheme to coerce social media companies to censor COVID statements during the pandemic, using a technicality.

The majority ruling said the plaintiffs, two states and several individuals, didn’t have “standing” even to bring the complaint.

The justice claimed that none of the plaintiffs was in a position to be injured by the censorship scheme, although it’s known that such speech limits vastly restricted truthful information about COVID and the experimental shots that now are known to include side effects up to and including death.

Meanwhile, Congress has launched an investigation into the actions of the Biden administration.

It originally was U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty who blasted the government for its program to blacklist, shadow-ban, de-boost, throttle and suspend social media activity by those who disagreed with the Biden administration’s chosen, and sometimes faulty, opinions on COVID.

He called it Orwellian and said it was the biggest threat to free speech in years.

The case is Murthy v. Missouri and in it, state attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana accused high-ranking government officials of working with giant social media companies “under the guise of combating misinformation” that ultimately led to censoring speech on topics that included Hunter Biden’s laptop, COVID-19 origins and the efficacy of face masks.

The majority opinion is from Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In her tacit endorsement of Biden’s censorship campaign, she said, “We begin – and end – with standing. At this stage, neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established standing to seek an injunction against any defendant.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chief of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “The First Amendment is first for a reason, and the freedom of expression should be protected from any infringement by the government. Our country benefits when ideas can be tested and debated fairly on their merits, whether online or in the halls of Congress. The Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have uncovered how and the extent to which the Biden Administration engaged in a censorship campaign in violation of the First Amendment. While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, our investigation has shown the need for legislative reforms, such as the Censorship Accountability Act, to better protect Americans harmed by the unconstitutional censorship-industrial complex. Our important work will continue.”

Alito pointed out the vast documentation and evidence assembled in the lower courts confirmed Biden’s officials “wielded potent authority. Their communications with Facebook were virtual demands. And Facebook’s quavering responses to those demands show that it felt a strong need to yield. For these reasons, I would hold that [plaintiff] Hines is likely to prevail on her claim that the White House coerced Facebook into censoring her speech.

“For months, high-ranking Government officials placed unrelenting pressure on Facebook to suppress Americans’ free speech.”

He explains, with multiple pages of evidence, the threat from the Biden administration, the damages being inflicted, and the unconstitutional censorship schemes in play.

“This case involves what the District Court termed ‘a far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign’ conducted by high-ranking federal officials against Americans who expressed certain disfavored views about COVID–19 on social media. Victims of the campaign perceived by the lower courts brought this action to ensure that the Government did not continue to coerce social media platforms to suppress speech. Among these victims were two States, whose public health officials were hampered in their ability to share their expertise with state residents; distinguished professors of medicine at Stanford and Harvard; a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine; the owner and operator of a news website; and Jill Hines, the director of a consumer and human rights advocacy organization,” Alito wrote.

“All these victims simply wanted to speak out on a question of the utmost public importance. To protect their right to do so, the District Court issued a preliminary injunction, and the Court of Appeals found ample evidence to support injunctive relief. 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.

“Freedom of speech serves many valuable purposes, but its most important role is protection of speech that is essential to democratic self-government, and speech that advances humanity’s store of knowledge, thought, and expression in fields such as science, medicine, history, the social sciences, philosophy, and the arts. The speech at issue falls squarely into those categories. It concerns the COVID–19 virus, which has killed more than a million Americans. Our country’s response to the COVID–19 pandemic was and remains a matter of enormous medical, social, political, geopolitical, and economic importance, and our dedication to a free marketplace of ideas demands that dissenting views on such matters be allowed. I assume that a fair portion of what social media users had to say about COVID–19 and the pandemic was of little lasting value. Some was undoubtedly untrue or misleading, and some may have been downright dangerous. But we now know that valuable speech was also suppressed,” he warned.

He continued, “The record before us is vast. It contains evidence of communications between many different government actors and a variety of internet platforms, as well as evidence regarding the effects of those interactions on the seven different plaintiffs.”

He said, “For months in 2021 and 2022, a coterie of officials at the highest levels of the Federal Government continuously harried and implicitly threatened Facebook with potentially crippling consequences if it did not comply with their wishes about the suppression of certain COVID–19-related speech. Not surprisingly, Facebook repeatedly yielded. As a result Hines was indisputably injured, and due to the officials’ continuing efforts, she was threatened with more of the same when she brought suit. These past and threatened future injuries were caused by and traceable to censorship that the officials coerced, and the injunctive relief she sought was an available and suitable remedy. This evidence was more than sufficient to establish Hines’s standing to sue…

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