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Social media companies take a victory lap after Supreme Court decision

The Supreme Court on Monday sent two First Amendment cases over social media content moderation back to lower courts.
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Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 01, 2024

The Supreme Court on Monday sent two First Amendment cases over social media content moderation back to lower courts, effectively continuing a hold on laws that restrict what platforms can do with content posted to their platforms.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered the court's opinion, ordering lower courts to conduct “a proper analysis of the facial First Amendment challenges to Florida and Texas laws regulating large internet platforms.”

In delivering the opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that in order to make a judgment as to whether those laws were unconstitutional, “a court must determine a law’s full set of applications, evaluate which are constitutional and which are not, and compare the one to the other.”

“Neither court performed that necessary inquiry,” she added.

The two cases center on social media regulation laws in Florida and Texas that placed restrictions on social media companies and how they moderate content on their platforms.

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Both laws were passed in 2021, not long after former president Donald Trump’s social media accounts were suspended on major platforms and posts spreading COVID-19 misinformation were taken down.

Conservatives accused social media companies of censorship. But social media companies, represented by internet trade association NetChoice, have argued it is within their First Amendment right to control whatever speech is posted on their platforms.

While additional proceedings will be set to take place in the future, NetChoice, which represents companies like Meta, Google and X, celebrated the Supreme Court decision.

“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is a victory for First Amendment rights online,” Chris Marchese, director of the NetChoice Litigation Center, said in a statement. “NetChoice will continue to vigorously defend Americans’ rights to free expression online.”

Meanwhile, conservatives like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to “keep fighting” to protect social media users from what they consider to be censorship of conservative content.

“No American,” he said on X, “should be silenced by big tech oligarchs."

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “while there are aspects of the decision we disagree with, we look forward to continuing to defend state law.”