Justice Jackson ripped for worrying about the First Amendment 'hamstringing' government: 'Literally the point'

Social media users were shocked and slightly bemused at Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s comments on the First Amendment Monday.

The Supreme Court heard Murthy v. Missouri, 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.


Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson questioned whether an argument made during a case hearing on Monday has the First Amendment “hamstringing the federal government.”  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

As the justices questioned whether the Biden administration crossed the constitutional line, 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.


The US Supreme Court is seen as the Court hears oral arguments in the case of Murthy v. Missouri in Washington, DC, March 18, 2024.  (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Fox and Friends Weekends co-host Will Cain responded, “Hamstringing the government is THE POINT of the First Amendment!”

“That’s literally the point of the Bill of Rights. The government’s powers derive from, and are subservient to, the rights of the People,” California state Rep. Bill Essayli echoed.

“I would be more concerned if the First Amendment did not hamstring the government in significant ways,” said Reason senior editor Robby Soave.

“This is not funny This lady is dangerous,” podcaster Tim Pool wrote.

OutKick writer Ian Miller wrote, “Always encouraging to see Supreme Court justices show this little understanding of the foundational principles of the United States.”

“WOW. The person who doesn’t know what a woman is, also doesn’t know what the first amendment is,” The Libs of TikTok account posted.

Comedian Tim Young similarly responded, “The same justice who doesn’t know what a woman is…doesn’t understand what the First Amendment was written for…Does this come as a shock to anyone?”

“‘I’m concerned that the Constitution is limiting the power of the government’ is a completely insane thing for somebody to say who sits on the highest court in the land,” the State Freedom Caucus Network’s Greg Price said.

Babylon Bee managing editor Joel Berry tweeted, “Listen to this. The full soundbite is even worse than the quote. We have a Supreme Court Justice who doesn’t believe in the First Amendment. Insane.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She sounded like a sophomore at Brown,” Substack columnist Michael Shellenberger commented.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey told Fox News Digital Jackson was “absolutely right” about the First Amendment restricting the government.

“It is hamstringing, and it’s supposed to. The whole purpose of the Constitution is to protect us from the government, and the government exists to protect our rights. But here, the federal government is ignoring our First Amendment protections and weaponizing the federal government to silence our voices,” Bailey said.

The Supreme Court debated whether the Biden administration’s collusion with Big Tech companies violated the First Amendment. (Fox News)


“And she’s right. It limits what the federal government can and can’t do. And that’s a good thing,” he added.

The Supreme Court will also decide whether a temporary injunction preventing White House and executive agency officials from meeting with tech companies about moderating content can remain in place as the case is being litigated.

Fox News’ Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.

Lindsay Kornick is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @lmkornick.

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