Supreme Court sends Texas and Florida social media moderation laws back to lower courts

The Supreme Court on Monday vacated two judicial decisions concerning Republican-backed laws from Florida and Texas aimed at limiting social media companies’ ability to moderate content.

The Supreme Court is sending both cases back to the lower courts for further review, noting that lower courts had failed to properly analyze the First Amendment challenges to the laws.

“The question in such a case is whether a law’s unconstitutional applications are substantial compared to its constitutional ones,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the decision. “To make that judgment, 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,” Kagan wrote. “Neither court performed that necessary inquiry.”

Both of the laws were adopted in 2021 and aimed to address complaints from conservatives who believed that social media companies like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) were illegally censoring conservative political views. The concerns were heightened when Facebook and X suspended former President Donald Trump’s accounts following the January 6 attack on the Capitol building.

The laws aimed to block social media companies from removing certain political posts or accounts.

NetChoice, a lobbying group for the tech industry, sued to overturn the laws, arguing that they violated the platforms’ speech rights. The group also argued that the laws grants the government too much control over content published on privately-owned platforms.

Both laws were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

This story is developing…

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