Editors at the Washington Examiner focus on the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest discussion of free-speech issues.

When can the federal government use its coercive regulatory powers to silence ideas it doesn’t like on social media? That was the question presented to the Supreme Court on Monday, and while a majority seems ready to protect the First Amendment, too many justices seemed ready to give the government the benefit of the doubt.

The key exchange came between Justice Samuel Alito and Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher when Alito asked Fletcher if print media outlets such as the New York Times or Associated Press would ever be subject to the threats, harassment, and “constant pestering” that the Biden administration applied to social media companies Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

Fletcher responded yes, “potentially in the context of an effort to get Americans during a once in a lifetime pandemic.” In other words, the Biden administration position is that the government may bully any media outlet into censoring ideas it doesn’t like as long as it regards doing so as an emergency necessity.

That is not how the First Amendment is supposed to work. The federal government does not have a First Amendment right to anything. The same is true with state and local governments. The First Amendment is a protection for people, not governments. If the Biden administration wants to cajole people to get vaccinated, it is free to do so from the bully pulpit. What it is not allowed to do is use government power or threats to censor people who disagree with its COVID policies.

That is what the Biden administration did, not just on vaccines but on other subjects, such as posts about the virus originating in China or questioning Biden policies on racial justice, Afghanistan, or Ukraine.

The government’s record on COVID health policies deserves much skepticism.