Photo of the Supreme Court by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The Supreme Court can sometimes make decisions that can be very confusing for people to understand. Once in a while, the current Supreme Court Justices get things right.

Today’s decision resulted in the Justices rejecting a Republican-led challenge to the Biden Administrations’ communication with social media companies to combat online misinformation on topics related to COVID-19 and the 2020 election (TechCrunch)

According to TechCrunch, the ruling overturns an injunction, which was on hold, that would have limited contact between government officials and social media companies.

The case was titled “Vivek H. Murthy, Surgeon General, Et. Al., Petitioners v. Missouri, Ethics Al”

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion was Justice Amy Coney Barrett. She is one of the conservative justices on the bench, I don’t always like her decisions, but this time, she got it right.

Justice Barrett was selected by Mitch McConnell. According to PBS, the (then) Senate Majority Leader said to (then) President Trump: “First, I’m going to put out a statement that says we’re going to fill the vacancy. Second, he said, you’ve got to nominate Amy Coney Barrett.”

This decision was made by Mitch McConnell shortly after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.

Here is a short piece from Justice Barrett’s opinion:

During the 2020 election season and the COVID-19 pandemic, social media platforms frequently removed, demoted, or fact-checked posts containing allegedly false or misleading information. At the same time, federal officials, concerned about the spread of “misinformation” on social media, communicated extensively with the platforms about their content-moderation efforts.

The plaintiffs, from two States and five social-media users, sued dozens of Executive Branch officials and agencies, alleging that they pressured the platforms to suppress protected speech in violation of the First Amendment. The Fifth Circuit agreed, concluding that the officials’ communications rendered them responsible for the private platforms’ moderation decisions. It then affirmed a sweeping preliminary injunction.

The Fifth Circuit was wrong to do so. To establish standing, the plaintiffs must demonstrate a substantial risk that, in the near future, they will suffer an injury that is traceable to a Government defendant and redressable by the injunction they seek. Because no plaintiff has carried this burden, none has standing to seek a preliminary injunction…

Held: Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established Article III standing to seek an injunction against any defendant.

The Opinion of the Court stated:

The plaintiffs, without any concrete link between their injuries and the defendants’ conduct, ask us to conduct a review of the years-long communications between dozens of federal officials, across different agencies, with different social-media platforms, about different topics.

This Court’s standing doctrine, prevents us from “exercising general legal oversight” of other branches of Government. We therefore reverse the judgement of the Fifth Circuit and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Judge Barrett delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts C.J., and Sotomayor, Kagan, Kavenaugh, and Jackson, J.J. joined. Alito, J. filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas and Gorsuch, J.J., joined.

I find it interesting that the writer of this opinion was Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and she and Judge Kavenaugh both sided with the more liberal justices.

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