Supreme Court To Hear Cases Challenging Red State Anti-Censorship Laws

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The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a set of cases challenging two red state laws intended to prevent viewpoint-based censorship online.

The plaintiffs in the cases, NetChoice & CCIA v. Moody and NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton, allege that laws passed by Florida and Texas in 2021 violate the First Amendment by restricting platforms’ ability to moderate content. The justices agreed to hear a total of 12 cases in an orders list released Friday.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court agreed to hear our landmark cases,” said Chris Marchese, NetChoice Litigation Director, in a statement. “Online services have a well-established First Amendment right to host, curate and share content as they see fit. The internet is a ‘vital platform for free expression’, and it must remain free from government censorship. We are confident the Court will agree.” (RELATED: The Supreme Court Has A Chance To Radically Shape Free Speech Online)

Florida’s law bars platforms from suspending political candidates and “journalistic enterprises” from their platforms. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law was likely unconstitutional in May 2022.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, backed Texas’ law in September 2022, finding corporations do not “have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say.” The law is broader, prohibiting platforms with over 50 million monthly U.S. users from censoring based on their viewpoint.

The Biden administration has urged the Supreme Court to strike down the laws.

“The platforms’ content-moderation activities are protected by the First Amendment,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in the Biden administration’s brief filed with the Supreme Court in August. “Given the torrent of content created on the platforms, one of their central functions is to make choices about which content will be displayed to which users, in which form and which order.”

The Supreme Court will also hear O’Connor-Ratliff v. Garnier and Lindke v. Freed, two cases questioning whether government officials who blocked constituents on social media were acting in an official capacity, on October 31.

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