SCOTUS Strikes Down Injunction Barring Contacts with Social Media Platforms on Disinformation

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an injunction barring the White House and other government agencies from communicating with and encouraging social media platforms to curb the spread of mis- and disinformation. The injunction also limited the government’s ability to communicate with civil society groups to limit disinformation online. The case stemmed from government outreach to the platforms about the dangerous spread of mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines during the pandemic.

Attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana and private plaintiffs filed suit claiming that the communications with the platforms violated their First Amendment free speech rights.

Common Cause, along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, filed an amicus brief in support of the government arguing that the spread of mis- and disinformation on social media represents a major threat to our democracy. The brief pointed to numerous examples of malicious actors spreading false and intimidating information on social media in an effort to dissuade people from voting or to undermine election integrity.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to strike down the injunction barring government contacts with the social media platforms over the spread of mis- and disinformation.

Statement of Ishan Mehta, Common Cause Media and Democracy Program Director

This ruling checks a dangerous overreach by the lower courts. The Supreme Court’s opinion today turned back a serious threat to public safety as well as to our very system of democratic government.

The Supreme Court’s ruling today struck an important balance between free speech and public safety when it comes to social media platforms spreading mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 and our elections.

Social media companies have an obligation to protect elections from disinformation, and it is vital that state, local, and federal agencies be able to collaborate with the platforms to combat this threat. Further, civil society organizations like Common Cause play a critical role safeguarding our elections, and prohibiting communications between groups like ours and the government, as proposed in the injunction, would leave Americans more vulnerable and it would violate our First Amendment rights.


To read the amicus brief filed by Common Cause, the Lawyers’ Committee, and the Leadership Conference, click here.