U.S. Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Social Media Law

The United States Supreme Court temporarily blocked on May 31 a Texas law that would restrict social media companies from moderating content on their platforms.

In a rare Supreme Court 5-4 ruling, the justices granted an emergency stay request to a petition from tech industry groups to block a lower court order that would have allowed the law — HB 20 — to take hold, pending legal challenges.

The tech industry and its supporters argued that the legislation violates their constitutionally protected right to make editorial decisions on their platforms and to be free from government-controlled speech.

Opponents of the law also warned that the legislation would unleash a wave of hate speech, disinformation, and other extremist content on platforms.

“This ruling means that private American companies will have an opportunity to be heard in court before they are forced to disseminate vile, abusive or extremist content under this Texas law,” Matt Schruers, the president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which filed the petition, said in a statement.

In his dissent opinion, Justice Samuel Alito has said that he has not “formed a definitive view on the novel legal questions that arise from Texas’ decision to address the ‘changing social and economic’ conditions it perceives.”

“But precisely because of that, I am not comfortable intervening at this point in the proceedings. While I can understand the Court’s apparent desire to delay enforcement of HB20 while the appeal is pending, the preliminary injunction entered by the District Court was itself a significant intrusion on state sovereignty, and Texas should not be required to seek preclearance from the federal courts before its laws go into effect,” Alito wrote.

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