(Texas Tribune) A Texas law prohibiting large social media companies from banning users’ posts based on their political viewpoints will go into effect after a federal appeals court on Friday lifted a block placed on the statute.
NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association sued Texas after the law, known as House Bill 20, was passed last year, arguing that internet companies have a First Amendment right to curate content posted on their platforms and decide which types of speech they saw fit to be there.
In its ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that the law was unconstitutional, saying they were seeking protection to “muzzle free speech.”
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” the ruling says.
The CCIA said the ruling forced tech companies to give equal treatment to all manners of speech, including extremist views.
“We strongly disagree with the court’s decision. Forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints on their platforms places foreign propaganda and extremism on equal footing with decent Internet users, and places Americans at risk,” the group said. “‘God Bless America’ and ‘Death to America’ are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the State of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has defended the law, celebrated the court’s decision. “I just secured a MASSIVE victory for the constitution & Free speech in fed court #BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY texan!” he wrote on Twitter.