by John J Vecchione at the Federalist
Whether or not the federal government and its myriad agencies will be able to coerce, cajole, encourage, threaten, and browbeat social media companies into removing views it does not like from their platforms was the question before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week.
The government made an expedited appeal of the July 4th order of the district court in Louisiana prohibiting it from directing or commanding social media companies from taking down content the government did not like. In barely a month, the issue was briefed by the parties, including the states of Missouri and Louisiana and individual plaintiffs, Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, Aaron Kheriaty, Jill Hines, and Jim Hoft, barred from various social media platforms for their statements disliked by the government.
The government’s position at the hearing and throughout the litigation is that it was just talking. It pretends that a long-term effort to threaten social media companies with removing protections from litigation, and new theories or laws regarding anti-trust, and intimidating visits from the FBI starting as early as 2017, coupled with constant hectoring from multiple government actors — with threats always in the background — do not amount to coercion, or even encouragement, of censorship by those companies. This position was met with skepticism by the court…Continue Reading