Supreme Court Takes Up Case That Would Impact Gov. Hobbs’ Past Censorship

Supreme Court Takes Up Case That Would Impact Gov. Hobbs’ Past Censorship

By Corinne Murdock |

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has agreed to take up a case that would have an impact on Gov. Katie Hobbs’ past censorship activities. 

The case, Murthy v. Missouri, focuses on the alleged coordinated campaign by government officials and social media companies to suppress and censor certain speech on major public issues, specifically the COVID-19 lab leak theory, pandemic lockdowns, vaccine side effects, election fraud, and the Hunter Biden laptop story. Hobbs, while secretary of state and during her gubernatorial campaign, coordinated with social media companies to remove certain speech online.

Hobbs’ then-chief of staff and former assistant secretary of state, Allie Bones, said in a statement prior to Hobbs’ inauguration that it was the job of governments to purge the public square of perceived misinformation and disinformation. 

“One of the ways we [make sure that voters are informed] is by working to counter disinformation online that can confuse voters,” stated Bones. “This is yet another example of conspiracy theorists trying to create chaos and confusion by casting doubt on our election system. It’s unfair to Arizona voters and it’s harmful to our democracy.”

Although SCOTUS accepted consideration of Murthy v. Missouri, they didn’t accept a lower court’s injunction preventing government officials from continuing their coordination with social media companies to moderate online speech. Justices John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson together granted the Biden administration’s petition to remove the injunction, effectively permitting the government to engage in censorship online.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the SCOTUS majority’s suspension of the injunction was “disturbing,” and that any censorship of private speech is antithetical to democracy. Alito dismissed the Biden administration’s argument that an injunction against coordinating with social media companies to control citizens’ speech was the same as preventing government officials from speaking on a matter. 

“The injunction applies only when the Government crosses the line and begins to coerce or control others’ exercise of their free-speech rights,” said Alito. “Does the Government think that the First Amendment allows Executive Branch officials to engage in such conduct? Does it have plans for this to occur between now and the time when the case is decided?”

Alito further declared that SCOTUS had effectively ruled to allow the Biden administration to continue with its First Amendment violations identified by the lower courts. 

“At this time in the history of our country, what the Court has done, I fear, will be seen by some as giving the Government a green light to use heavy-handed tactics to skew the presentation of views on the medium that increasingly dominates the dissemination of news,” said Alito. “That is most unfortunate.”

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined Alito in his dissent. 

Gov. Hobbs issued an emergency heat declaration with an expired enforcement date the day after additional emails revealing her coordinated censorship efforts were released. Hobbs dismissed the emails as a “sideshow,” but didn’t deny allegations of maintaining unscrupulous relationships with major social media companies. 

Hobbs’ past coordination with social media companies prompted the House to establish an interim ad hoc committee on Oversight, Accountability, and Big Tech. The committee first convened in September and met once more earlier this month. 

While SCOTUS contemplates the case, Hobbs already has defense provided by the state’s chief legal officer.

In August, Attorney General Kris Mayes joined a 21-state coalition of Democratic attorneys general opposing the then-active federal injunction. Mayes declared that control over free speech is paramount to public safety, implying that governmental interest in safety outweighs the constitutional right of free speech.

“Social media companies and government officials must have open communication in order to ensure the safety of Americans online,” said Mayes. “A pillar of the U.S. government is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its citizens. The lower court’s decision impedes on this protection and means federal, state and local officials cannot contact social media companies about dangerous online content.” 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Lawmakers Square-Off On Student Loan Debt Cancellation

Arizona Lawmakers Square-Off On Student Loan Debt Cancellation

By Daniel Stefanski |

A coalition of Arizona lawmakers are pushing back against the recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation efforts.

Earlier in July, a group of Arizona Democrat legislators wrote a letter to President Biden, calling on his administration to “deliver its campaign promise to cancel student debt.”

The legislators, led by Representative Cesar Aguilar, expressed their collective outrage over the Supreme Court opinion in June, which overturned the president’s student debt cancellation plans. They wrote, “While members of the Court’s majority enjoy vacations paid for by billionaires, this ruling shows blatant disregard and disrespect for the 43 million American borrowers being crushed by student debt and desperate for relief.”

In their letter, the lawmakers included information about Arizonans who were in line to benefit from the president’s debt cancellation scheme that was thwarted by the nation’s high court, stating, “Nearly 900,000 Arizonans stood to benefit from your Student Loan Cancelation Plan – 12.4 percent of our state’s population. The average student loan debt in Arizona is $33,396. Your Student Loan Cancellation Plan could cancel $10,000 for those making less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for those who are Pell Grant Recipients. Arizona has the 15th highest number of borrowers in the country and would have seen a significant financial release and economic impact.”

The Democrats warned of the consequences that could come with the Court’s decision, adding, “Without relief Arizonans will have less money in their pockets to pay for bills, goods and services strained by inflation. Less consumer spending reduces economic growth and moves the American Dream further out of reach for millions. … We urge you to act as swiftly as possible so Arizonans still recovering financially due to the pandemic can get back on their feet.”

On the last day of its recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in Biden v. Nebraska, striking down the president’s student loan cancellation program. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion, and he was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

The majority opinion stated that “the ‘economic and political significance’ of the Secretary’s action is staggering by any measure. Practically every student borrower benefits, regardless of circumstances. A budget model issued by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania estimates that the program will cost taxpayers ‘between $469 billion and $569 billion,’ depending on the total number of borrowers ultimately covered.”

At that time, freshman Republican Representative Austin Smith reacted, “Cancelling student loan debt is and always will be an irresponsible and brainless ‘policy’ proposal. It deserved this fiery death at SCOTUS. Do not take astronomically large loans for a career with a salary you will never be able to pay off.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Affirmative Action Ruling Stirs Reaction From Arizona Politicos

Affirmative Action Ruling Stirs Reaction From Arizona Politicos

By Daniel Stefanski |

The U.S. Supreme Court saved one of the biggest opinions of the term for its second-to-last day, and its decision triggered reactions on both sides of the aisle in Arizona.

When the nation’s high court handed down its highly anticipated ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, it made a significant correction in the standards for admissions systems used by public universities around the United States. The Court held that race-based standards in Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs “violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Writing for the majority coalition of the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “…the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual – not on the basis of race. Many universities have for too long done just the opposite. And in doing so, they have concluded, wrongly, that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned but the color of their skin. Our constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”

The historic decision by the Supreme Court, drew reactions from Arizona’s politicians on both side of the aisle.

In response to an inquiry from AZ Free News, Senate President Warren Petersen replied, “This is a great decision for the fight against discrimination. The highest court in the land agreed with Martin Luther King Jr. in that you should not be judged by the color of your skin. An individual should be considered for college admissions based on academics, experience, qualifications and character—not by race. I’m thrilled this ruling will bring some sanity back to institutions of higher learning.”

Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope told AZ Free News, “SCOTUS made the right decision today. As the proud son of a Mexican American mother and a white father of German ancestry, our family always knew that we should be judged on our character and not our color. We’re all Americans and we all share a responsibility in keeping this country free of racism & bigotry.”

Democrats, however, took issue with the Court’s ruling. Senate Democratic Leader Mitzi Epstein released a statement after the opinion’s revelation, saying, “Affirmative Action has never been about jumping to the front of the line without any merit. It has been about providing a ladder of equity to help those who have faced adversity in education, the workplace, housing, and every aspect of American life. Affirmative Action has been about providing opportunities for students who are Black and Brown to attend colleges, and for college students to live, love and learn among diverse peers. The same people celebrating this bad Court decision have been actively trying to whitewash history and walk America back to the book-burning past. SCOTUS did not rule against legacy admissions, employee and family recommendations, and grandiose donor admissions. The Court ruled to allow favoritism, but not favoritism for those who have faced racist obstacles. The Court ruled for the favored to get more favors, just as Republican politicians have pushed ways for the rich to get richer, and for the powerful to get more power.”

Democrat Representative Analise Ortiz called the Court’s opinion “devastating,” adding that “this ruling upholds white supremacy in higher education and the workforce. Simultaneously, the efforts to privatize K-12 education and drain public schools of funding achieve the same end. We must fight back to ensure racial equity in education.”

Kimberly Yee, the State’s Republican Treasurer, also weighed in on the news of the day, writing, “I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to keep merit, character and academic achievement the center point of college admissions. The American Dream is attained by putting in the honest, hard work. No one should be able to cut ahead of the line in the name of affirmative action, based on the color of their skin. This decision upholds the core Constitutional principle that no institution in America is allowed to discriminate based on race.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Supreme Court Takes Up Case That Would Impact Gov. Hobbs’ Past Censorship

Scottsdale Legal Nonprofit Secured Religious Freedom Win In Supreme Court

By Corinne Murdock |

The Scottsdale legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) won a religious freedom case at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

SCOTUS ruled 6-3 at the end of June in 303 Creative v. Elenis against Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), as unconstitutional. The law would prohibit a Christian wedding website designer from refusing to create a same-sex wedding website.

The plaintiff, Lorie Smith, holds the Christian belief that marriage exists only between one man and one woman, and contests against the possibility that she either must produce content that “contradicts Biblical truth,” such as same-sex marriages, or cease business.

Ultimately, SCOTUS determined in a majority opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch that Smith’s creative expression constituted speech and that CADA therefore violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.

“Ms. Smith’s websites will express and communicate ideas — namely, those that ‘celebrate and promote the couple’s wedding and unique love story’ and those ‘celebrat[e] and promot[e]’ what Ms. Smith understands to be a marriage,” stated Gorsuch. 

Gorsuch further criticized CADA for its fullest possible outcome: compelling speech of all manners and kinds from any commissioned person if their customer belongs to a CADA-protected class.

“Under Colorado’s logic, the government may compel anyone who speaks for pay on a given topic to accept all commissions on that same topic — no matter the message — if the topic somehow implicates a customer’s statutorily protected trait,” said Gorsuch. “Taken seriously, that principle would allow the government to force all manner of artists, speechwriters, and others whose services involve speech to speak what they do not believe on pain of penalty. The Court’s precedents recognize the First Amendment tolerates none of that.”

Smith does have LGBTQ clients; however, Smith won’t create content that runs counter to her beliefs.

After the SCOTUS ruling, ADF CEO and lead counsel Kristen Waggoner stated that differences of beliefs don’t constitute discrimination.

“Disagreement isn’t discrimination, and the government can’t mislabel speech as discrimination to censor it,” said Waggoner. “As the court highlighted, her decisions to create speech always turn on what message is requested, never on who requests it. [T]he government has never needed to compel speech to ensure access to goods and services.” 

Following the ruling, critics alleged that Smith fabricated a request for a same-sex wedding website after a news article insinuated she did. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser also derided Smith’s complaint as “a made-up case without the benefit of any real facts or customers.” ADF and Smith rejected those claims.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Politicians Split On Student Loan Ruling

Arizona Politicians Split On Student Loan Ruling

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona elected officials found no shortage of material to react to from the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest term.

On Friday, the nation’s highest court released its opinion in Biden v. Nebraska, striking down the president’s student loan cancellation program. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion, and he was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

The majority opinion stated that “the ‘economic and political significance’ of the Secretary’s action is staggering by any measure. Practically every student borrower benefits, regardless of circumstances. A budget model issued by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania estimates that the program will cost taxpayers ‘between $469 billion and $569 billion,’ depending on the total number of borrowers ultimately covered.”

State legislators were quick to respond to the momentous decision from the Supreme Court. Freshman Republican Representative Austin Smith tweeted, “Canceling student loan debt is and always will be an irresponsible and brainless ‘policy’ proposal. It deserved this fiery death at SCOTUS. Do not take out astronomically large loans for a career with a salary you will never be able to pay off.”

Smith also parried an attack from the House Democrats Caucus, which took to Twitter to pin the decision on Republicans. This tactic didn’t sit too well with Smith, who said, “The Constitution did this. Cope and seethe.”

On the other side of the aisle, Senate Democratic Assistant Leader Juan Mendez released a statement shortly after news broke about the opinion, writing, “Today’s decision on Student Loan Relief is all the evidence we need to rule this court as corrupt. For generations this court as been playing favorites, taking sides and receiving undisclosed donations, all while Congress has been bailing out corrupt corporations, reckless Wall Street traders and forgiving PPP loans for the wealthy.”

Senator Mendez also called on President Biden to take further action, saying, “The Court’s biased decisions can not go unanswered. The President must do everything within his power to set student loan interest rates to 0%, set minimum monthly payments to $25, and revamp current repayment plans to accept volunteerism as payment.”

Earlier this year, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes announced that she had withdrawn the State from a lawsuit over the president’s actions on student loans, which was initiated by her predecessor, Mark Brnovich. Mayes told KTAR News that “we’re not going to be engaging in political lawsuits at the Attorney General’s Office anymore,” and that “suing the federal government over everything is not the answer and it’s not what the people of Arizona want.” The KTAR recap of the interview noted that the first-year attorney general “said the student debt lawsuit was inappropriate and unlikely to succeed.” Instead, Mayes joined a coalition of attorneys general from around the country to support a “federal proposal to create a more affordable repayment plan for student loan borrowers.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.