The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Texas law that prohibits large social media companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from banning or removing the posts of users because of the users’ political viewpoints.
The justices, in a 5-4 vote, granted NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association’s request to reinstate a block imposed by a federal district judge as the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.
“No online platform, website, or newspaper should be directed by government officials to carry certain speech,” Matt Schruers, president of the association, said in a statement. “This has been a key tenet of our democracy for more than 200 years and the Supreme Court has upheld that.”
The two industry trade groups that represent companies such as Google and Twitter sued to block the law last fall. In December, a federal district court judge ruled in favor of the groups and prevented the law from going into effect, reasoning that the First Amendment protects a company’s right to moderate content and calling parts of the law “prohibitively vague.”
As a result, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the district judge’s decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which reinstated the law.
Passed during a special session last year, House Bill 20 also requires social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users to publicly disclose information about content removal and account suspensions.