SCOTUS Offers Mixed Bag on FL, TX Anti-Censorship Cases

The cause for free speech is down but not out. In the two cases challenging Texas and Florida’s anti-censorship laws, the Supreme Court “vacated” the previous decisions and sent the case back to the lower courts.

NetChoice, the anti-free speech tech trade association challenging the state laws, brought these cases arguing that there were no constitutional applications of the laws. In a 9-0 decision, the Court shut down NetChoice’s claims as inaccurate. 

The nine justices ruled that the laws in certain cases could be constitutional. To challenge the laws, individual platforms will now have to sue Texas and Florida for how the laws are, or will be applied. 

Writing the Court’s opinion, Justice Elena Kagan implied that constitutional principles suggest the Texas law unconstitutionally regulates speech when applied to some of the worst Big Tech censors, Facebook and YouTube. 

“The current record indicates that the Texas law does regulate speech when applied in the way the parties focused on below—when applied, that is, to prevent Facebook (or YouTube) from using its content-moderation standards to remove, alter, organize, prioritize, or disclaim posts in its News Feed (or homepage),” Kaegan wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas, however, noted in his concurring opinion that this is “opin[ing],” “dictum” and “unnecessary to [the decision’s] holding.”

MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider explained the significance of the ruling in an X post this morning. “Today the majority has upheld the TX and FL laws, but with a series of non-binding dicta (guiding language that does not necessarily control) that suggests there is a Constitutional right to censor people’s speech,” he wrote.

Schneider added that the Texas and Florida Attorneys General Ken Paxton and Ashley Moody “now have a renewed opportunity to demonstrate Meta/Facebook and Google/Youtube have already disavowed that users’ speech is their speech.”  

The MRC vice president continued, “These Big Tech companies have repeatedly claimed in court filings that when their users post content, that content is not the platforms’ speech. Going forward, any company that is claiming Section 230 immunity should not have a right to violate the TX and FL laws that SCOTUS allowed to stand”

This comes after the Court refused to halt government actors from pressuring social media companies to censor specific content in the Murthy v. Missouri

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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