In a key legal filing last month, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), in collaboration with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and other free speech organizations, took a bold step in the ongoing battle for free speech. Together, they filed an Amicus Brief with the Supreme Court in Murthy v. Missouri, challenging government overreach and defending the fundamental right to express dissenting opinions.

This case underscores a troubling trend: government officials leveraging their power to coerce social media platforms into silencing voices they disagree with. In September, a federal court rightfully deemed this pressure campaign a violation of the First Amendment. Now, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to weigh in and establish clear boundaries regarding government interference in private speech.

At the heart of the matter lies the concept of “jawboning” – when government officials go beyond expressing policy preferences to actively compelling private entities to conform to their viewpoints. Such behavior undermines the core principles of democracy, where diverse perspectives and dissenting opinions are not only tolerated but cherished.

The  Murthy case transcends politics and partisanship, as censorship knows no party allegiance. NCAC’s involvement underscores a nonpartisan commitment to defending free expression from government intrusion, regardless of the particular government officials doing the censoring.

The crux of NCAC’s argument in the Amicus Brief is the imperative to safeguard private speech from government coercion. Drawing clear and principled lines is essential to preserving the integrity of public discourse. No government, regardless of its political persuasion, should wield undue influence over the marketplace of ideas. And no government gets to mandate what is truth. 

Indeed, our constitution explicitly prohibits the government from dictating the terms of public debate. At its core, democracy hinges on the unfettered exchange of ideas and the right to challenge government policies without fear of reprisal.

As the Supreme Court grapples with a set of cases involving government control of social media platforms, it must  uphold the appeals court’s ruling in Murthy. Doing so ensures that no administration can strong-arm private companies into becoming mouthpieces for government agendas.

NCAC and its partners stand as staunch defenders of free speech. By challenging government overreach and advocating for the protection of private expression, they reaffirm the bedrock principles upon which democracy thrives. The outcome of the Murthy case will not only shape the future of online discourse but will also reaffirm the enduring importance of safeguarding free speech in all its forms.

Read the full Amicus Brief here:
Click here for a full-screen view: