The Supreme Court will hear social media cases with immense free speech implications

On Friday, the US Supreme Court agreed to take on two landmark social media cases with enormous implications for online speech, as reported by The Washington Post. The conservative-dominated court will determine if laws passed by Texas and Florida are violating First Amendment rights by requiring social platforms to host content they would otherwise block.

Tech industry groups, including Meta, X (formerly Twitter) and Google, say the laws are unconstitutional and violate private companies’ First Amendment rights. “Telling private websites they must give equal treatment to extremist hate isn’t just unwise, it is unconstitutional, and we look forward to demonstrating that to the Court,” Matt Schruers of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), one of the trade associations challenging the legislation, told The Washington Post. The CCIA called the order “encouraging.”

The groups representing the tech companies contesting the laws say platforms would be at legal risk for removing violent or hateful content, propaganda from hostile governments and spam. However, leaving the content online could be bad for their bottom lines as they would risk advertiser and user boycotts.

Supporters of the Republican-sponsored state laws claim that social media companies are biased against conservatives and are illegally censoring their views. “These massive corporate entities cannot continue to go unchecked as they silence the voices of millions of Americans,” said TX Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who recently survived an impeachment trial accusing him of abuses of office, bribery and corruption. Appeals courts (all with Republican-appointed judges) have issued conflicting rulings on the laws.

The US Supreme Court voted five to four in 2022 to put the Texas law on hold while the legal sparring continued. Justices John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted to prevent the law from taking effect. Meanwhile, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the temporary hold. Alito (joined by Thomas and Gorsuch) said he hadn’t decided on the law’s constitutionality but would have let it stand in the interim. The dissenting Kagan didn’t sign off on Alito’s statement or provide separate reasoning.

The Biden administration is against the laws. “The act of culling and curating the content that users see is inherently expressive, even if the speech that is collected is almost wholly provided by users,” Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar said to the justices. “And especially because the covered platforms’ only products are displays of expressive content, a government requirement that they display different content — for example, by including content they wish to exclude or organizing content in a different way — plainly implicates the First Amendment.”

About Ajay Sharma 1322 Articles
Explore, learn, write - An creative writer getting to explore the all view who feels it is a digital adventure. With 9 year of experience in SEO writing still he says to be a beginner in learning.

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