Justice Alito Criticizes White House In Social Media Case Dissent

Justice Samuel Alito issued a strong dissent against the Biden administration in a Supreme Court case involving social media moderation. The case centered on allegations that the White House pressured Facebook to suppress “misinformation” about COVID-19 and other topics. Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, accused the administration of violating the First Amendment.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, dismissed the lawsuits on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing, avoiding the free speech issue. Alito criticized this decision, stating, “For months, high-ranking Government officials placed unrelenting pressure on Facebook to suppress Americans’ free speech. Because the Court unjustifiably refuses to address this serious threat to the First Amendment, I respectfully dissent.”

During Barrett’s reading of the majority opinion, Alito and Thomas appeared disengaged, with Gorsuch absent from the bench. The case began when Republican state attorneys general and private plaintiffs sued the Biden administration, claiming its efforts to moderate content on social media amounted to unconstitutional censorship.

Alito acknowledged that some of the content moderated by social media platforms was untrue or misleading, but he emphasized that valuable speech was also suppressed. He argued that the administration’s actions amounted to coercion, not mere encouragement. “White House officials browbeat Facebook into deleting posts, and the platform’s response resembled that of a subservient entity determined to stay in the good graces of a powerful taskmaster,” Alito wrote.

The dissent highlights a significant debate over free speech and government influence on social media platforms. Alito’s opinion underscores the importance of addressing potential First Amendment violations in an era where social media plays a critical role in public discourse.