WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court today granted the Biden administration’s request to review a Fifth Circuit decision finding that administration officials likely violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to take down vaccine and election misinformation. Last month, Justice Alito granted the government’s request for a temporary stay. Today, the Court granted certiorari and left the stay in place pending the justices’ adjudication of the case on the merits.

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

“This is an immensely important case. The First Amendment has long been understood to prohibit the government from coercing bookstores and other speech intermediaries to suppress speech, but the Supreme Court hasn’t had occasion to apply this rule in the context of social media. Even outside that context, it’s said very little about how lower courts should distinguish permissible persuasion from unconstitutional coercion. These are momentous, thorny issues, and how the Court resolves them will have broad implications for the digital public sphere.”

Earlier this year, the Knight Institute announced a new research initiative on jawboning and the First Amendment. As part of this inquiry, the Institute has published on its website a series of short thought pieces by legal experts, former social media platform representatives, and civil society advocates that consider the court decisions in Missouri v. Biden (now captioned Murthy v. Missouri) and focus on empirical and theoretical questions about how jawboning works, why it matters as a form of censorship, and what possible regulations and solutions can remedy its harms. Read the series here.  

For more information, contact: Adriana Lamirande, [email protected]