With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Texas law that restricts social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from moderating content.
The law, HB 20, applies to large social media platforms, and prohibits them from banning and blocking posts and accounts. Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the majority, with Alito writing for himself, Thomas, and Gorsuch that the Texas law is "groundbreaking" and addresses "the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day." He added that he does not have a "definitive view" on the legal questions surrounding the law.
The law is being challenged by tech industry advocacy groups, who called HB 20 "an unprecedented assault on the editorial discretion of private websites." If allowed to stay, the groups warn that the law "would compel platforms to disseminate all sorts of objectionable viewpoints — such as Russia's propaganda claiming that its invasion of Ukraine is justified, ISIS propaganda claiming that extremism is warranted, neo-Nazi or KKK screeds denying or supporting the Holocaust, and encouraging children to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior like eating disorders."
Supporters of the law claim it is a way to keep conservatives from being censored, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has argued it does not infringe on the First Amendment rights of social media platforms.