Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Texas’ law against social media censorship from taking effect, with Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh joining the majority to send the anti-censorship bill back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In a rare 5-4 ruling, Justices John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Brayer joined Barrett and Kavanaugh in the majority to block the law, which gave Texas residents a right to appeal bans from social media platforms in court. (Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images) (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images) Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Obama-appointed Justice Elena Kagan dissented. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Alito said he had not yet formed a “definitive view” on the law, but that blocking it was both premature, and an unacceptable intrusion on state sovereignty. “It is not at all obvious how our existing precedents, which predate the age of the internet, should apply to large social media companies, but Texas argues that its law is permissible under our case law,” wrote Alito. “The State notes that we have upheld laws requiring that businesses disclose purely factual and uncontroversial information about the terms under which their services will be available, so long as those requirements are not unjustified or unduly burdensome. “Applicants sought pre-enforcement review of the statute in federal court, so it is not clear how state courts would interpret this statute if it were applied to applicants’ businesses; nor has it been resolved which platforms are covered by the law.” “The Court of Appeals, after briefing and oral argument, concluded that the District Court’s order should be stayed, and a decision on the merits can be expected in the near future. I would not disturb the Court of Appeals’ informed judgment about applicants’ entitlement to a stay.” “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.” The law, arguably the strongest bill passed by any state government aimed at providing users with recourse against arbitrary censorship, was challenged in court by tech industry groups. It ended up before the Supreme Court after the Fifth Circuit overturned a district court judge’s decision to block it. While the Fifth Circuit lifted that initial decision, it did not issue a full opinion. If the law returns to the Fifth Circuit, as it likely will, the appeals court will have a chance to do so, at which point it will likely return to the Supreme Court, which will have an opportunity to issue a full opinion on the merits.
The case is Netchoice v. Paxton, No. 21A720 in the Supreme Court of the United States. Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @LibertarianBlue. .
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