New York: Two Washington-based groups representing Google, Facebook and other tech giants filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, seeking to block a Texas law that bars social media companies from removing posts based on a user’s political ideology.
The Texas law took effect on Wednesday after the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans lifted a district court injunction that had barred it. The appeals court action shocked the industry, which has been largely successful in batting back Republican state leaders’ efforts to regulate social media companies’ content-moderation policies.
In their filing to the Supreme Court on Friday, Washington-time, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) argue that the law violates the US Constitution and risks causing “irreparable harm” to the internet and businesses, according to a news release.
The law “strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content,” NetChoice counsel Chris Marchese said in a statement.
“Left standing, [the Texas law] will turn the First Amendment [which guarantees freedom of expression in the US] on its head — to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be ‘protecting’ it.”
The application brings before the nation’s highest court a battle over the future of online speech that has been roiling policymakers in Washington and in statehouses.
As elected officials across the country increasingly call for regulation of Silicon Valley’s content-moderation policies, they’re colliding with the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from regulating speech.
The application was filed with Justice Samuel Alito, who was nominated to the court by Republican President George W. Bush.