WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law, championed by conservatives, that aimed to keep social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their viewpoints.
Tuesday’s unusually 5-4 vote by the court was used to suspend Texas law while a case is pending in lower courts.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor and Brett Kavanaugh voted in favor of the Emergency Request from the two Technology Industry Groups that had challenged the federal law.
The majority provided no explanation for its decision, as is common in emergency matters on what is informally known as the court’s “shadow docket.”
Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan would have approved that the law be kept in effect.
In dissent, Alito wrote, “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news.”
It’s not clear how the high court’s past First Amendment cases, many of which predate the internet age, apply to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other digital platforms, Alito wrote in an opinion joined by fellow conservatives Thomas and Gorsuch but not Kagan.
Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week, the order is now in effect. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a similar Florida law likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
Republican legislators in many states have supported laws such as those in Florida or Texas, which sought to depict social media companies in a liberal outlook and hostile ideas from outside that view.
A Texas district judge blocked the Texas law at first, but the panel of New Orleans’ 5th U.S. allowed it to go into effect. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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