Ketanji Brown Jackson Concerned First Amendment ‘Hamstringing the Government’

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said Monday that she was concerned that the First Amendment was “hamstringing the government in significant ways, in the most important time periods.”

Jackson addressed Louisiana Solicitor General Benjamin Aguiñaga, whose state joined Missouri in suing the federal government over its attempts to censor speech on social media platforms during the coronavirus pandemic, ostensibly for public health reasons.

Jackson had earlier presented a hypothetical situation in which social media platforms were allowing a dangerous trend to circulate in which children were encouraged to jump out of windows “at increasing elevations.” She asked whether government authorities could not “encourage social media platforms to take down the information that is instigating this problem.”

Aguiñaga suggested that the government could use the “bully pulpit” to push back against the content of the information, but could not call the social media platforms to encourage them, or coerce them, to take down the information.

Jackson objected, saying that it was not enough to say that the government could post its own speech. There were situations, she suggested, in which the government could “encourage or require this kind of censorship” necessary for public safety.

Conservatives have objected to the White House calling on social media companies to suppress information — such as skepticism about vaccines, or political speech about election integrity.

The case is Murthy v. Missouri, No. 23A243, in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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