Texas urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow enforcement of its social media law over the objection of tech industry trade groups.
A federal appeals court lifted a blockade last week of the state law that aims to eliminate digital censorship by directing social media platforms with more than 50 million active users not to discriminate against Texan users’ viewpoints.
Two tech industry trade groups challenged the lower court’s decision and Justice Samuel A. Alito asked Texas to respond by Wednesday evening. Texas told the high court its law does not violate the First Amendment.
“Applicants — whose members, as relevant here, include Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (the platforms) — assert a First Amendment right to refuse service to their customers based on the viewpoints those customers profess,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote. “This Court has never recognized such a right, and it should not do so now to vacate a stay.”
The tech trade groups, Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice, asked the high court to reverse the federal appeals court’s decision lifting the blockade last week.
The tech groups said Texas’ law represented an “unprecedented assault on the editorial discretion of private websites,” including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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“HB20 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 denying or supporting the Holocaust, and encouraging children to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior like eating disorders,” the tech groups wrote. “HB20 also imposes related burdensome operational and disclosure requirements designed to chill the millions of expressive editorial choices that platforms make each day.”
A determination on the tech groups’ emergency application to reimpose the blockade of Texas’ law could come quickly. The trade groups submitted the application to the court on Friday, and Justice Alito requested on Saturday a response before Wednesday evening.
• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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