Today’s Adventures With the Supreme Court

While the delay continues with the Supreme Court’s decision on that one guy’s presidential immunity, there were two decisions handed down — and one inadvertently leaked.

The Good News:

A 6-3 vote in the Murthy v. Missouri case, the Supremes handed down a stern rebuke to some of the most right-wing judges in the country on Wednesday, holding that no, judges do not get to micromanage how the Biden administration speaks to social media companies.

Justice Handmaiden Amy Coney Barrett delivered the majority opinion, in which Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh, along with Barrett, joined the three Democratic appointed Justices to say that a lawsuit never should have been filed in the first place, and no federal court should have entertained it — looking at the far-right Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The plaintiffs in the case claimed that platforms (Facebook) censored them because of pressure from the government, and that this pressure violates the First Amendment. Barrett’s opinion laid out that the plaintiffs could not show that the government nor social media companies did anything to harm them in the first place — there was no legal standing.

Vox, WaPo

Justice Alito wrote the dissent, and was joined by Thomas and Gorsuch.

Uncle Sam accused the Biden administration of leading a “campaign to coerce Facebook” when it attempted to moderate misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic on social media.

“I assume that a fair portion of what social media users had to say about COVID-19 and the pandemic was of little lasting value,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “Some was undoubtedly untrue or misleading, and some may have been downright dangerous. But we now know that valuable speech was also suppressed.” 

When Justice Barrett read her opinion, Alito mainly looked down at a set of papers in front of him, with his head sometimes leaning on his hand. He did not read his dissent aloud from the bench. Thomas mimicked Alito, looking down, while Gorsuch was absent.

The Hill

The Bad News:

The Supremes weakened laws guarding against public corruption. Big shocker.

In Snyder v. United States, the vote was along partisan lines, 6-3, in favor of the former Mayor of Portage, Indiana, who accepted a bribe payment of $13,000 in exchange for a towing contract. Snyder argued the exchange was an “after-the-fact gratuity,” not a bribe.

The law in question makes it a federal crime to “corruptly accept anything valued above $5,000,” monetary or not. Today’s ruling, handed down by Justice Kavanaugh, means local officials may now legally accept de-facto bribes if they come in the form of gratuities. 

Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson said “only today’s court could love” this interpretation, calling the court’s reading of the law “absurd and atextual.”