Tech industry appeals to SCOTUS against bad Texas social media law

Technology industry trade organizations NetChoice and the Computer Communications Industry Association have appealed directly to the Supreme Court to seek a stay of Texas’ social media law known as HB 20 “in the event that the user or someone else” could make it impossible , to enforce bans on hate speech – or to moderate platforms at all. HB 20 was successfully suspended in court late last year and cleared without reason by an appeals court on Wednesday.

“Texas HB 20 strips private online businesses of their speaking rights, prohibits them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to post and promote objectionable content,” NetChoice consultant Chris Marchese said in a press release. “The First Amendment prohibits Texas from forcing online platforms to host and promote foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech, and spam.”

On appeal before the court’s decision to clear HB 20, the Fifth Circuit’s three-judge panel seemed confused about many of the basic terms used — one judge seemed to think Twitter wasn’t a website, and another seemed to think to think that there is no difference between a phone company like Verizon and a social media company like Twitter or Facebook.

NetChoice won a similar case in Florida last year, making the case’s constitutional issues even more pressing to resolve.

By going directly to the Supreme Court, NetChoice and CCIA have elected to skip the “en banc” review, in which the Fifth Court would have assembled a larger panel to review the original panel’s decision. NetChoice’s emergency residency application is being reviewed by Judge Samuel Alito, who may rule unilaterally or take the matter to court. If the request is granted, the HB 20 would be blocked again pending further legal proceedings.

Right now, the Supreme Court has a solid Conservative majority, including Justice Clarence Thomas, whose views on Twitter moderation seem to mirror HB 20 and whose Facebook posts promoted the Jan. 6 rally that turned into a riot and Donald as well Trump led to be banned from Twitter. Tech industry appeals to SCOTUS against bad Texas social media law

Fry Electronics Team

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