California, blue states side with Biden admin after social media censorship slap

The state of California is leading a charge of 23 Democrat-led states arguing the Supreme Court should overturn a “sweeping” decision that banned the government from coordinating with social media companies to censor Americans.

In a brief submitted to the high court, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and his blue state colleagues support President Biden’s Justice Department in arguing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit’s “sweeping” decision in the case of Missouri v. Biden. 

That case stems from a lawsuit brought by Republicans in Missouri and Louisiana that accused high-ranking government officials of working with giant social media companies to censor speech on topics that included Hunter Biden’s laptop, COVID-19 origins and the efficacy of face masks. 

The 5th Circuit ruled administration officials “likely violated” the First Amendment and issued a preliminary injunction banning the government from communicating with Big Tech platforms about user content. 

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Bonta argued to the high court that if the decision is upheld, it “could chill the ability of government agencies to engage productively with the private sector to protect the public online.”

“Social media is a daily source for news and information across the country,” Bonta said in a press release. 

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision, which blocks virtually any outreach to social media platforms about content moderation by numerous federal government agencies and officials, is extraordinarily sweeping and threatens efforts to address threats to public health and safety.”

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President Biden speaking during an anti-MAGA speech in Philadelphia

The 5th Circuit ruled the Biden administration “likely violated” the First Amendment. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Judge Terry A. Doughty ruled in a July 4 order that if the allegations made by the Republican AGs were true, “the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.

“In their attempts to suppress alleged disinformation, the Federal Government, and particularly the Defendants named here, are alleged to have blatantly ignored the First Amendment’s right to free speech,” Doughty said. 

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US Supreme Court building on a sunny day

The Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

But Bonta and his colleagues argued that “maintaining open lines of communication between the government and social-media companies on topics such as extremist violence, child safety, and consumer protection is mutually beneficial, furthers the public interest, and fully comports with the First Amendment.” 

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The AGs argued the 5th Circuit’s decision didn’t properly assess how helpful the government can be to social media platforms in addressing consumer fraud schemes and other related concerns. They also argue that collaborating with the platforms to protect children from online harms is a vital practice. 

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