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Justice Jackson lambasted for 'concern' 1st Amendment could 'hamstring government' in COVID censorship hearing

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan joined 'America Reports' to sound off on highlights from oral arguments in Murthy v Missouri, a case regarding COVID-era censorship.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio who was inside the Supreme Court for part of its "Murthy v. Missouri" oral arguments, ripped Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's critique of one plaintiffs' comments about federal pressure on social media firms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jordan told Fox News that Jackson's comments about the government potentially being "hamstr[u]ng" by the First Amendment" helped underline the power many on the left sought to wield upon opposing viewpoints during the pandemic.

"The big takeaway today was Ketanji Brown Jackson, when she said to the solicitor general from Louisiana, she said, 'you've got the First Amendment hamstringing the government' – Well, that's what it's supposed to do, for goodness sake," he said Monday on "America Reports."

"It was literally one of the craziest things I've ever seen, that you could have a justice on the United States Supreme Court say that in the oral [arguments] made no sense to me," Jordan added, calling the exchange "frightening" and a potentially bad precursor if such views take greater hold.

"[U]nderstand what took place here: This was censorship-by-surrogate," Jordan said of the suppression of countervailing thought during the pandemic.


During oral arguments Monday, Louisiana Solicitor General Benjamin Aguiñaga engaged in a back-and-forth with Justice Amy Coney Barrett regarding pressure from government toward social media companies – the latter of which were accused of censoring talk of alternative treatments and virus sourcing conjecture at the whims of the feds and other entities.

Jackson then told Aguiñaga her "biggest concern is that your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the government in substantial ways in the most important time periods."

"Some might say that the government actually has a duty to take steps to protect the citizens of this country and you seem to be suggesting that duty cannot manifest itself in the government encouraging or even pressuring platforms to take down harmful information," Jackson later continued.


"Our position is not that the government cannot interact with the platform... but the way they do that has to be in compliance with the First Amendment," Aguinaga eventually responded. 

"I think that means they can give them all the true information that the platform needs and ask to amplify that."

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., who had joined Jordan in court for some of the arguments, told "America Reports" it appeared Jackson suggested at times the government "could coerce private parties to suppress third-party speech."

He added, however, that the questions from the greater bench were "mixed," including that of Justice Samuel Alito, whom he recounted speaking about government coercion, "as long as the government is really subtle about coercing," it may be outside the court's purview, in Bishop's words.

"That would leave the FBI to embed itself with social media companies, take down the Hunter Biden laptop in election after election after election if that's the way that turns out," Bishop claimed.

The right-leaning outlet The Federalist also took issue with Jackson's colloquy, with the headline, "Free speech  is on trial at the Supreme Court, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is no fan of the First Amendment."

On X, The Heritage Foundation responded to Jackson's concern with the retort, "Yes."


Plaintiff and physician Aaron Kheriaty told Fox News the government's job is "not to decide what is true and what is false, and what can be said publicly and what cannot be said publicly. It's only job is to draw the line between illegal and legal speech."

Bishop told "America Reports" the case shows the issue at hand is determining how far the feds can go to keep otherwise protected speech off social media and other platforms.

"I just don't think the government ever has a valid interest in doing that," he said, adding the government could however admonish or respond to countervailing arguments.

Jordan pointed out one example of alleged suppression he found most egregious, citing a tweet from then-Democrat Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. citing the death of baseball legend Hank Aaron.

"The tweet was RFK Jr saying, Hank Aaron… took the vaccine and passed away. He did so to encourage Black Americans to get vaccinated -- Two true statements. [The White House] went after that tweet; true statements; They wanted them taken down."

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