Supreme Court hears arguments for First Amendment cases: live updates

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9:29 a.m. ET, March 18, 2024

What to know about Murthy v. Missouri, a key case on the First Amendment and misinformation on social networks

From CNN’s Brian Fung, Devan Cole and Vanessa Yurkevich

The US Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that will decide whether the Biden administration’s communication with social media companies during the Covid-19 pandemic violated free speech.

The legal question: If the US government unconstitutionally pressured social media platforms to censor user speech – particularly when the government flagged posts on the platforms that it believed violated the companies’ terms of service.

The Biden administration previously defended the actions in courtarguing that communication channels with social media companies must remain open so that the federal government can help protect the public from threats to election security, Covid-19 misinformation and other dangers.

How we got here: The states of Missouri and Louisiana, along with five social media users, filed the lawsuit against several federal officials.

The district court and federal appeals court found that the Biden administration “transformed private social media platforms’ decisions to remove, demote, or label posts into state actions that violated the First Amendment” when they discussed content with companies, according to a presentation before the Supreme Court of the states.

In July 2023, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering federal agencies and more than a dozen top officials not to contact social media companies to remove “content containing protected free speech.”

The Supreme Court stopped the entry into force of that court order in October 2023 until the case is heard.

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