On Sept. 16, a New Orleans federal appeals court ruled in favor of a Texas law that seeks to rein in social media companies like Facebook and Twitter who have actively censored conservative speech. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed house bill 20, which would allow residents of the state to sue platforms that have 50,000 users or more if they have been unfairly banned or had their account removed. When NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) sued to have House bill 20 blocked, a lower district court agreed.
However the Federal court ruling handed down will override that decision, making Big Tech companies accountable for censoring free speech on their platforms.
According to Epoch Times, Circuit Judge Andrew Oldham wrote in the opinion,
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” adding “Because the district court held otherwise, we reverse its injunction and remand for further proceedings.”
"Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,"
– Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, in his ruling against Big Tech.
I'll Follow You Back!
— David Weiss 🇺🇸45/47🇺🇸 (@BDavidWeiss) September 17, 2022
NetChoice and CCIA argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter have a First Amendment right to moderate content that’s posted on their platforms deciding what speech is permitted.
Judge oldham expressed concern that platforms would mislead the public, garnering a large user base under the guise of free speech, only to later crack down on communication.
Judge Oldham distinguished between newspapers that mainly carry the newspapers speech and platforms that operate as conduits for the speech of others.
Judge Oldham draws on the longstanding distinction between entities, like the Big Tech companies here, that operate mainly as conduits for the speech of others and, on the other hand, a newspaper that primarily carries the newspaper's own speech.
Big First Amendment difference.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) September 16, 2022
Though it is likely that Big Tech will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, the ruling is a win for free speech and a needed positive step during an election year.