US Supreme Court puts Texas law on social media censorship on hold
- US Supreme Court puts Texas law on social media censorship on hold
- The court voted in an unusual 5-4 alignment Tuesday
- The majority provided no explanation for its decision, as is common in emergency matters
The court voted in an unusual 5-4 alignment Tuesday to put the Texas law on hold, while a lawsuit plays out in lower courts.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted to grant the emergency request from two technology industry groups that challenged the law in federal court.
The majority provided no explanation for its decision, as is common in emergency matters on what is informally known as the court's “shadow docket.”
In dissent, Alito wrote, “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news.”
It's not clear how the high court's past First Amendment cases, many of which predate the internet age, apply to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other digital platforms, Alito wrote in an opinion joined by fellow conservatives Thomas and Gorsuch but not Kagan.
The order follows a ruling last week by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a similar Florida law likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
Republican elected officials in several states have backed laws like those enacted in Florida and Texas that sought to portray social media companies as generally liberal in outlook and hostile to ideas outside of that viewpoint, especially from the political right.
The Texas law was initially blocked by a district judge, but then allowed to take effect by a panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.