A diverse coalition of progressive organizations calls on the Supreme Court to uphold the Biden administration’s efforts to combat misinformation on social media platforms. The case at hand, Murthy v. Missouri, centers around the federal government’s communication with social media companies to curb the spread of harmful speech online.
While a district court judge ruled in July that these efforts potentially violated the First Amendment, three left-leaning groups submitted an amicus brief on December 22, urging the justices to reject the lower court’s injunction.
In their brief, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Common Cause emphasized disinformation’s grave threat to democracy. They highlighted the widespread dissemination of false and intimidating messages on social media platforms, which aim to discourage voter participation and undermine election integrity. These tactics, they noted, often exploit racial divisions and perpetuate longstanding fears in marginalized communities.
The three organizations are part of the Election Protection Coalition, a network that collaborates with federal and state officials to ensure fair and secure elections. They have engaged with various government agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to provide crucial information about election-related issues.
With its 200 member organizations, the Leadership Conference encompasses a wide range of advocacy groups, such as the National Center for Transgender Equality, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. They argue that the district court’s injunction impinges on their right to petition the government regarding vital election security matters.
Judge Terry A. Doughty of the District of Louisiana, responsible for the initial injunction, also prohibited the government from collaborating with research groups and projects advocating censorship. While the Fifth Circuit later modified this injunction aspect, the coalition maintains that the remaining language is still excessively broad and vague. They contend that this ambiguity could deter government officials from engaging with social media platforms, thereby jeopardizing the right to vote and impeding efforts to combat malicious election interference and voter suppression.
In conclusion, this coalition of left-leaning organizations is urging the Supreme Court to support the Biden administration’s fight against misinformation on social media. They argue that curbing the spread of disinformation is essential for preserving democracy, as it safeguards the integrity of elections and prevents the suppression of marginalized voices. By petitioning the government and collaborating with social media companies, these groups strive to ensure that accurate information prevails in the digital landscape, ultimately fostering a more informed electorate.