Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.
Children’s Health Defense (CHD) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday filed an amicus brief opposing last week’s ruling by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito pausing an order that would have restricted the Biden administration from communicating with social media companies.
Alito’s ruling placed a temporary hold — in effect until Sept. 22 — on a federal judge’s injunction issued July 4 in Missouri et al. v. Biden et al., and later upheld under a Sept. 8 ruling by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
An amicus brief is filed by non-parties to a litigation to provide information that has a bearing on the issues and assist the court in reaching the correct decision. It comes from the Latin words amici curiae, which means “friend of the court.”
The Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, filed in May 2022 by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, alleges President Biden and other top administration officials “pressured and colluded” with Big Tech social media companies to censor and suppress information, including posts that contradicted the official government narrative on COVID-19 origins, vaccines and treatments.
Kennedy, CHD founder and chairman on leave, and CHD in March filed a class action lawsuit against the Biden administration, making similar allegations. In July, a federal judge consolidated the two lawsuits.
According to CHD and Kennedy’s amicus filing:
“Companies like Facebook and Google decide every day for hundreds of millions of Americans what they are allowed to say, see, and hear. Because these are private companies, the Constitution ordinarily would not apply to their ‘content moderation’ decisions.
“But as we now know, and as the documentary record in this case demonstrates, the Federal Government has for several years been waging a systematic, clandestine, and highly effective campaign to get these companies to do what the government itself cannot: censor protected speech on the basis of its content and viewpoint.”
Commenting on the filing, CHD President and counsel of record in the amicus filing Mary Holland said:
“We’re at a historic juncture when we must end the government’s Orwellian tactics to censor us. Over the past three years, we’ve seen the most intense efforts in our nation’s history to silence those who question or criticize the government.
“We await word from the Supreme Court on whether it will hear this emergency petition regarding the preliminary injunction against government officials.”
Two lower courts found that government officials likely violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to censor COVID-19-related “misinformation.”
Justice Alito’s pause followed the Sept. 14 emergency filing by the U.S. Department of Justice to the Supreme Court to stay the injunction while the high court considers whether to hear the case.
An attorney familiar with the case told The Defender, Alito’s order expires at midnight tonight, but it’s unclear what happens next. Alito could issue a new order extending the temporary administrative stay until Monday, or the full court could issue an order today, denying a stay and letting the injunction go into effect.
Alternatively, the court could issue a ruling granting a much longer stay and indicating that it will consider the merits of the case with full briefing and argument.
The Defender on occasion posts content related to Children’s Health Defense’s nonprofit mission that features Mr. Kennedy’s views on the issues CHD and The Defender regularly cover. In keeping with Federal Election Commission rules, this content does not represent an endorsement of Mr. Kennedy who is on leave from CHD and is seeking the Democratic nomination for president of the U.S.