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Supreme Court grants associations’ request to block Texas ‘anti-censorship’ social media law
June 1, 2022 |

Business groups argue state is violating the First Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of a Texas law penalizing social media companies that ban users for posting political or controversial content. Two associations had challenged the law, saying it violates businesses’ First Amendment rights.

The law passed by Republican lawmakers late last year allows people to sue Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms for deleting or blocking online posts. The move came amid complaints that social media companies are “censoring” conservative voices. One often-cited example is former President Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter after his supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Technology industry associations NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association both sued to overturn the law. A lower court sided with the trade groups but the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Texas. The associations appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday reinstated an injunction on enforcement of the law while the federal court system weighs its constitutionality, CNBC reported.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote was welcomed by NetChoice and CCIA, which argue the law unconstitutionally compels social media companies to host content they don’t want.

“The government cannot force American businesses to host and spread a mass murderer’s vile manifesto, Putin’s anti-West propaganda or an anti-Semite’s Holocaust denial,” Chris Marchese, counsel at NetChoice, said in a statement.

“In passing HB 20, the Texas legislature ran roughshod over the First Amendment, so we’re relieved that users will remain protected from the flood of horrible content Texas would have unleashed on popular websites and services as the case proceeds in the district court,” he added.

“This ruling means that private American companies will have an opportunity to be heard in court before they are forced to disseminate vile, abusive or extremist content under this Texas law,” CCIA President Matt Schruers said in a separate statement.

NetChoice and CCIA have also sued to overturn a similar law in Florida. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down most of that law in a May 23 ruling.