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Liberal SCOTUS Justice In Hot Water For ‘Chilling’ First Amendment Comments

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Supreme Court had a significant week, hearing various cases related to the First Amendment.

During one of the cases about government censorship, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made remarks that caused a viral backlash. She suggested that government collusion with social media companies could be justified.

During an episode of “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday, Jonathan Turley, a Fox News contributor and constitutional scholar, expressed his concern over Justice Jackson’s “chilling” comments.

“There are indeed important First Amendment cases here. As someone associated with the free speech community, we’re all on edge. It was chilling in the social media case to hear justices like Jackson repeatedly say, what’s the problem with the government coercing speech? Why shouldn’t they, when there are really troubling periods … like in the pandemic,” Turley began.

“And many of us were really sort of agape at that, because much of what the government did on censorship was wrong. Many things that they were censoring, by scientists who were fired and disciplined and barred from social media, in some cases,” he said.

Turley continued,” They were vindicated, ultimately, on things like the origin of the virus [in a Chinese lab], showing that it’s not just a possibility, many consider it the leading possibility. Closing of schools. They were vindicated on many of those things. And yet you had Jackson saying, I don’t see why the government can’t coerce social media. So we’re all very concerned where the government will land there.”

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On Monday, the United States Supreme Court deliberated on the case of Murthy v. Missouri, which contested the Biden administration’s purported collusion with large digital companies to filter specific messages.

The lawsuit was based on claims made by Republican-led states Missouri and Louisiana that senior government officials had collaborated with social media platforms “under the guise of combating misinformation,” which ultimately resulted in speech restrictions on subjects like Hunter Biden’s laptop, the origins of COVID-19, and the effectiveness of face masks.

The states contended that this was a violation of the First Amendment.

While the justices debated whether the Biden administration had gone beyond the bounds of the constitution, Justice Brown Jackson seemed to imply that such acts might be acceptable.

“My biggest concern is that your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the federal government in significant ways in the most important time periods,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson told the lawyer representing Louisiana, Missouri, and private plaintiffs.

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“And so I guess some might say that the government actually has a duty to take steps to protect the citizens of this country, and you seem to be suggesting that that duty cannot manifest itself in the government encouraging or even pressuring platforms to take down harmful information,” she continued.

“So can you help me? Because I’m really — I’m really worried about that because you’ve got the First Amendment operating in an environment of threatening circumstances from the government’s perspective, and you’re saying that the government can’t interact with the source of those problems,” Jackson added.

Her comments quickly went viral with dozens of people insisting that “hamstringing the federal government” is “literally the point” of the First Amendment.

Fox and Friends Weekends co-host Will Cain responded, “Hamstringing the government is THE POINT of the First Amendment!”

“That’s literally the point of the Bill of Rights. The government’s powers derive from, and are subservient to, the rights of the People,” California state Rep. Bill Essayli echoed.

“I would be more concerned if the First Amendment did not hamstring the government in significant ways,” said Reason senior editor Robby Soave.

“This is not funny This lady is dangerous,” podcaster Tim Pool wrote.

OutKick writer Ian Miller wrote, “Always encouraging to see Supreme Court justices show this little understanding of the foundational principles of the United States.”

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