Judge Jackson's 'chilling' First Amendment comments leave Jonathan Turley 'very concerned'

In a big week for the Supreme Court, justices heard several cases relating to the First Amendment. Arguments from one case relating to government censorship sparked viral backlash after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson appeared to suggest govenment collusion with social media companies could be justified. On “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday, Fox News contributor and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley outlined his concern over the “chilling” remarks from Justice Jackson.


JONATHAN TURLEY: There are indeed important First Amendment cases here. As someone associated with the free speech community, we’re all on edge. It was chilling in the social media case to hear justices like Jackson repeatedly say, what’s the problem with the government coercing speech? Why shouldn’t they, when there are really troubling periods … like in the pandemic. And many of us were really sort of agape at that, because much of what the government did on censorship was wrong. Many things that they were censoring, by scientists who were fired and disciplined and barred from social media, in some cases. They were vindicated, ultimately, on things like the origin of the virus [in a Chinese lab], showing that it’s not just a possibility, many consider it the leading possibility. Closing of schools. They were vindicated on many of those things. And yet you had Jackson saying, I don’t see why the government can’t coerce social media. So we’re all very concerned where the government will land there.

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was unable to define the word “woman” when asked at her confirmation hearing last year, is now under scrutiny for her dissent in a landmark decision rejecting affirmative action. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court heard Murthy v. Missouri on Monday, a case challenging the Biden administration’s alleged coordination with Big Tech to censor certain messages.

The case stemmed from a lawsuit brought by Republican-led states Missouri and Louisiana that accused high-ranking government officials of working with social media companies “under the guise of combating misinformation” that ultimately led to censoring speech on topics that included Hunter Biden’s laptop, COVID-19 origins and the efficacy of face masks — which the states argued was a First Amendment violation.

As the justices questioned whether the Biden administration crossed the constitutional line, Justice Brown Jackson appeared to suggest that such actions can be justified.

“My biggest concern is that your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the federal government in significant ways in the most important time periods,” she told the lawyer representing Louisiana, Missouri and private plaintiffs.


“And so I guess 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 that duty cannot manifest itself in the government encouraging or even pressuring platforms to take down harmful information,” she continued.

“So can you help me? Because I’m really — I’m really worried about that because you’ve got the First Amendment operating in an environment of threatening circumstances from the government’s perspective, and you’re saying that the government can’t interact with the source of those problems,” Jackson added.


Her comments quickly went viral with dozens of people insisting that “hamstringing the federal government” is “literally the point” of the First Amendment.

Fox News’ Lindsey Kornick and Alexa Moutevelis contributed to this report.

Justices appear to side with government on social media censorship Video

This article was written by Fox News staff.

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