A divided US Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that critics say would fundamentally transform
Over four dissents, the justices on Tuesday put the measure on hold while a constitutional challenge goes forward in a lower court, granting a request from tech groups that represent the platforms. A federal appeals court let the law, known as HB20, go into effect earlier this month.
The tech groups, which also represent
The Supreme Court order “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,” said Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, one of the groups pressing the case.
The court, as is its custom with emergency requests, gave no explanation. An unusual collection of justices dissented: liberal
The Texas law bars social media platforms with more than 50 million users from discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. Texas Governor
“This law provides accountability for social media companies and protections for social media users,” said Texas Senator
A representative for Texas Attorney General
A spokesman for Facebook said the company would defer to the trade groups for any reaction. A spokesperson for Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A federal district judge blocked a key part of the law in December, saying social media companies have a free speech right to exercise editorial discretion over their platforms.
Alito said in a dissenting opinion the district court order was “a significant intrusion on state sovereignty, and Texas should not be required to seek preclearance from the federal courts before its laws go into effect.”
Thomas and Gorsuch joined Alito’s opinion. Thomas suggested last year that the government
Kagan gave no explanation, saying only that she would have denied the request by the tech groups. Kagan has been a frequent dissenter from orders in recent years granting requests on the court’s so-called shadow docket.
Critics of the law said it would have wreaked havoc on social media platforms and violated the speech rights of the companies that run those sites.
“We are relieved that the First Amendment, open internet, and the users who rely on it remain protected from Texas’s unconstitutional overreach,” said Chris Marchese, a lawyer at NetChoice, the other group challenging the law.
“I don’t know if Texans, or the rest of the world, fully appreciate just how radical Texas HB 20 is,” Goldman said in an email. “It would fundamentally reshape the internet in ways that no one -- not even the bill proponents -- wants.”
The New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the district court ruling on May 11. The 2-1 decision, which came without explanation, let the law
A different federal appeals court, the Atlanta-based 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, last week
The case is NetChoice v. Paxton, 21A720.
(Updates with reaction starting in fourth paragraph.)
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