(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to block the Biden administration from censoring protected speech on social media.
“The federal government doesn’t get to play referee on the field of public discourse,” Yost said. “If you let them decide what speech is OK, one day yours might not be.”
In the filing, Yost asks the Supreme Court to deny the federal government’s request to pause a U.S. District Court injunction prohibiting certain Biden administration officials from pressuring social media platforms into deleting user content protected by the First Amendment.
The brief argues that halting the injunction would enable the executive branch to resume its troubling practice of silencing individuals and groups with views opposing those of the current administration — a federal overreach that was on full display following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
During the pandemic, the White House closely monitored social media platforms, flagging accounts and posts with dissenting views for the platforms to delete. Officials also kept tabs on the platforms’ monitoring activities and pressured the companies to adopt permanent policy changes aligned with the federal government’s goals. Similar steps were taken by the Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
Missouri and Louisiana sued last year, arguing in Missouri v. Biden that the federal government’s censorship of social media content violated the First Amendment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed, ruling against the federal government earlier this month and partly upholding an injunction granted by a U.S. District Court in Louisiana.
Yost writes in support of the plaintiffs, saying, “The facts underlying this case reflect the federal government’s tendency to wield its power to target people and speech specially disfavored by those in power.”
A copy of the amicus brief is available on the attorney general’s website.