Court Rules Against Social Media Companies in Free Speech Censorship Fight
Court Rules Against Social Media Companies in Free Speech Censorship Fight

By Tom Ozimek

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has ruled in favor of a Texas law that seeks to rein in the power of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to censor free speech.

The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans (pdf), handed down on Sept. 16, upholds the constitutionality of a Texas law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last year and delivers a victory to Republicans in their fight against big tech censorship of conservative viewpoints.

“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham wrote in the opinion.

“Because the district court held otherwise, we reverse its injunction and remand for further proceedings,” Oldham added, setting the stage for a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Groups Sue

After the law, known as House Bill 20, was passed last year, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) sued.

The groups argued in their lawsuit that private companies like Facebook and Twitter have a First Amendment right to moderate content that’s posted on their platforms and decide on what forms of speech to allow or ban.

“The Act tramples the First Amendment by allowing the government to force private businesses to host speech they don’t want to,” NetChoice said in a statement. The groups also argued that the Texas law not only does not prevent censorship but allows Texas to “police and control speech online, overriding the First Amendment rights of online businesses.”

A lower court sided with the lawsuit and decided to block the law, with Friday’s ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning that decision.

“The platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech,” Oldham wrote in the opinion.

He said the implications of the big tech platforms’ argument are “staggering” as they would allow entities like social media companies, banks, and mobile phone companies to cancel the accounts of people who express views or spend money in support of political parties or views such corporations oppose.

Oldham also said that the protections sought by platforms in challenging the Texas law would allow them to win a dominant market position by attracting users with misleadings claim of being champions of free speech but later cracking down on expression.

‘Massive Victory’ for Free Speech

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has been a staunch backer of the law, hailed the court’s decision in a statement on social media.

“I just secured a MASSIVE victory for the constitution & Free speech in fed court #BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY texan!” he wrote on Twitter.

Carl Szabo, NetChoice vice president and general counsel, issued a statement expressing disappointment in the appeals court’s ruling.

“We remain convinced that when the U.S. Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold the First Amendment rights of websites, platforms, and apps,” Szabo said.

CCIA issued a statement saying that the 5th Court of Appeals’ ruling infringes on private companies’ First Amendment rights.

“‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the State of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same,” Matt Schruers, CCIA president, said in a statement.

An appeal of Friday’s decision could put the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court, where conservatives have a majority.

Affiliate News Feeds

  • Washington Examiner
  • The Federalist
  • The Epoch Times
  • The Guardian
  • The Gateway Pundit

CHANTILLY, Virginia — A group of roughly 70 students at Chantilly High School in northern Virginia marched out of class and off school grounds without adult supervision to protest Republican… [...]

President Joe Biden's plan to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt is facing its first serious legal challenge alleging it violates federal law and the Constitution,… [...]

As inflation weighs on the public, 71% of workers claimed their salary and wage growth is being outpaced by a rise in the cost of living. [...]

Historical setbacks and the proliferation of broken homes hurt black Americans, but there’s also something else: Marxism.  [...]

A woman’s death in Iran has sparked mass protests but little response from the Biden administration or ‘the squad’ of congresswomen. [...]

Ryan Busse claims to be a gun industry insider, but he has no interest in advocating for America's hunters and riflemen. [...]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday highlighted the declining state of the economy under President Joe Biden and said he does not believe the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is… [...]

A federal appeals court in Manhattan handed former President Donald Trump a procedural victory Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit, after famed columnist E. Jean Carroll claimed that Trump had raped… [...]

President Joe Biden on Sept. 27 announced that he will keep in place the current cap on refugee admissions at 125,000 for the fiscal year 2023, allowing hundreds of thousands of… [...]

Bank’s emergency move brings relief to bond market, but fails to stabilise UK currencyOver here, chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is due to meet bankers again today in an effort to calm… [...]

Threadneedle Street will buy UK government bonds as pound continues to tumble in response to Truss and Kwarteng’s mini-budgetBusiness news today – live updatesThe Bank of England has intervened in… [...]

Will PM and chancellor ignore advice under mounting pressure, which is also coming from US and Germany?IMF urges UK government to reconsider tax-cutting plansLiz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have taken… [...]

The night before the line was damaged, thousands of people in Gera in Germany marched against Socialist Olaf Scholz’s policy and the explosion of energy and gas prices in Germany. … [...]

President Trump said Senator Joe Manchin is “off the rails” and “who the hell can blame him?” in a recent post on Truth Social. Manchin agreed on Tuesday to drop… [...]

Remember three weeks ago when Putin and the Russian military were on the ropes and the Ukrainian army was steamrolling through Kharkov? That was then and Urkaine’s promised victory failed… [...]

USNN2020

USNN World News (USNN) USNN World News Corporation is a media company consisting of a series of sites specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information, local,...