October 5, 2022

Texas social media bill upheld by federal court ruling corporations do not have ‘right’ to censor

On Friday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas state statute that prohibits major social media sites from censoring specific viewpoints, according to The Daily Caller.

In general, platforms with more than 50 million monthly U.S. users are not allowed to ban individuals based on their political views under Texas’ HB 20, which was signed last year.

The court rejected the arguments made by the Computer Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the NetChoice organization, which were representing social media businesses, that some provisions of the statute were illegal.

“In urging such sweeping relief, the platforms offer a rather odd inversion of the First Amendment,” the court’s majority decision said.

“That Amendment, of course, protects every person’s right to ‘the freedom of speech.’ But the platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech.”

For the law to take effect, the district court that previously made the decision must receive explicit instructions from the appeals court, according to Politico. Following an emergency request by the CCIA and NetChoice, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on a 5-4 vote in May to prevent the law from taking effect.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the circuit court’s decision Friday, tweeting, “#BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY Texan! The 5th Circuit ‘reject[s] the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say.”

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