NEW ORLEANS, LA—On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a much-anticipated ruling that partly upheld a decision that Biden administration officials likely violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to respond to posts contributing to vaccine hesitancy and election misinformation. 

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. 

“The lower court’s injunction was dramatically overbroad, and the Fifth Circuit is right to narrow it. But the court’s analysis is a dog’s breakfast. It mashes together legal tests that were meant to answer very different questions. And ultimately it fails to offer a principled way of distinguishing permissible persuasion from impermissible coercion. To be fair, it isn’t easy to do this. But this area of the law is crying out for clarification. The Fifth Circuit’s opinion leaves government officials and platforms without clear guideposts, and leaves First Amendment doctrine even more garbled than it was before.”

Read the court’s decision here

The Knight Institute will host a closed convening next month on jawboning and the First Amendment with a group of legal experts, former social media platform representatives, and civil society advocates. While the convening is not open to the public, participants will write short (3-5 page) notes in advance of the event, and these will be published on the Institute’s website. Find a list of participants and learn more about this initiative here.

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, [email protected]