Supreme Court’s Murthy Decision: A Dire Blow to First Amendment Rights

Experts Warn of Precedent for State-Ordered Censorship

The Supreme Court’s recent Murthy decision sent shockwaves through the nation, threatening the bedrock of American democracy – freedom of speech. As the dust settles, legal experts and civil rights advocates warn of a future where government censorship could become the new norm.

In a narrow 6-3 decision, the Court ruled on the standing of the plaintiffs rather than addressing the broader constitutional issues at play. Justice Samuel Alito, in a scathing dissent, emphasized the crucial role of free speech in democratic self-governance. “Freedom of speech serves many valuable purposes,” Alito wrote, “but its most important role is protection of speech that is essential to democratic self-government.”

The Issue of Standing

The Fifth Circuit said the plaintiffs had a right to sue in federal court, but Justice Barrett dismissed that.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, argued that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue, sidestepping the more profound questions about the government’s role in suppressing speech. Legal analysts criticize this approach as a dangerous precedent that could embolden state-ordered censorship.

Justice Barrett determined that the plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue legal claims against the executive branch of the federal government. This reversed and remanded the Fifth Circuit ruling that government violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. Barrett was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson in the majority. Justice Samuel Alito dissented, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

“We begin – and end – with standing. At this stage, neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established standing to seek an injunction against any defendant. We therefore lack jurisdiction to reach the merits of the dispute,” Barrett wrote.

Murthy decision, justice barrett declared lack of standing
Justice Amy Coney Barrett official portrait.

Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas vehemently opposed the ruling, warning that it undermines the First Amendment. “Government officials may not coerce private entities to suppress speech, and that is what happened in this case,” Alito stated in his dissent.

The legal implications of this decision are far-reaching. Experts argue that it undermines critical protections enshrined in the Constitution. Jim Pfaff, President of The Conservative Caucus, highlighted federal statutes like 42 U.S. Code § 1983 and § 1985, which hold government officials accountable for civil rights violations. “The Biden administration is clearly liable for the deprivation of constitutional rights,” Pfaff asserted.

Pfaff added a controversial and pointed remark, saying, “I want to know who is threatening the lives of SCOTUS judges who are suddenly doing things they don’t normally do. Two cases thrown by the wayside on technicalities or suddenly changing their minds to hear them.”

Contrast to Historical Free Speech Protection

This ruling also stands in stark contrast to the historical protection of free speech in the United States. Unlike other countries, where free speech is often limited, the U.S. has long held an absolute stance on this fundamental right. Legal historians point to landmark cases like Brandenburg v. Ohio as examples of robust free speech protections that are now at risk.

The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021 .Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. .Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
The Roberts Court, April 23, 2021 .Seated from left to right: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left to right: Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. .Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Public reaction to the decision has been swift and polarized. Politicians from both parties weighed in, with many civil rights organizations decrying the ruling as a grave threat to democracy.

The decision, just four months before the election, will predictably act as a dangerous green light to the Biden administration, Pfaff says. The White House, FBI, and social media bosses will dramatically increase their censorship of the truth to try to defeat President Trump. This might explain the decisions of the three Democrat Justices. It raises troubling questions about the three Republican Justices who sided with state-directed censorship.

Murthy Decision Implications

Looking ahead, the implications of the Murthy decision are troubling. Legal experts foresee an increase in state-directed censorship and a potential chilling effect on free speech. The ruling sets a concerning precedent for future Supreme Court cases, where standing might be used to sidestep substantive constitutional issues.

As America grapples with this landmark decision, the need to safeguard First Amendment rights has never been more urgent. The future of democracy depends on it.

Alan Gray
Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it's head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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Alan is also a techie. His father was a British soldier in the 4th Indian Division in WWII, with Sikhs and Gurkhas. He was a sergeant in signals and after that, he was a printer who typeset magazines and books on his linotype machine. Those skills were passed on to Alan and his brothers, who all worked for Telecom Australia, on more advanced signals (communications). After studying electronics, communications, and computing at college, and building and repairing all kinds of electronics, Alan switched to programming and team building and management.He has a fascination with shooting video footage and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.