SCOTUS Blocks Texas Social Media Law

HB20 bans social media censorship based on political views
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 5:42 PM CDT
SCOTUS Blocks Texas Social Media Law
The Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington, May 4, 2022.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to temporarily block a controversial Texas social media law Tuesday—but the court didn't split along its usual lines. The law, HB20, bans social media companies with more than 50 million users from banning users based on their political views, the Hill reports. It has been praised by conservatives, but the top court's conservative and liberal blocs were both divided in the Tuesday ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett voting to block the law and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch voting to allow it to take effect, reports the AP.

The majority voted to grant an emergency request from two industry groups representing major tech companies. The groups argued that the law would "compel platforms to disseminate all sorts of objectionable viewpoints, such as Russia’s propaganda claiming that its invasion of Ukraine is justified, ISIS propaganda claiming that extremism is warranted, neo-Nazi or KKK screeds ... and encouraging children to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior like eating disorders," per CNBC. Chris Marchese at one of the groups, NetChoice, said he was glad the court had blocked the "constitutional trainwreck."

"No online platform, website, or newspaper should be directed by government officials to carry certain speech," said Matt Schruer, president of the second group, the Computer and Communications Industry Association. The law was initially blocked by a district judge but a panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that it should be allowed to take effect while the court deliberates the case. In his dissent, Alito described HB20 as a "groundbreaking Texas law that addresses the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day." (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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