The Supreme Court will decide whether state laws restricting social media platforms violate the Constitution

  • Post by: Admin
  • Sep 30 2023

The Supreme Court has decided to decide whether state laws regulating Facebook, TikTok, X and other social media platforms violate the Constitution

The court's announcement comes three days before the start of its new term as the justices continue to grapple with how laws written at the dawn of the digital age or earlier apply to the online world.

The justices had already agreed to rule on whether officials can block critics from commenting on their social media accounts, an issue previously raised in a case involving then-President Donald Trump. The court dismissed Trump's case when his term as president ended in January 2021.

Separately, the Supreme Court could also consider a lower court order restricting executive branch officials' communications with social media companies about controversial online posts.

In total, the judges added twelve cases on Friday that will be heard in the winter. They include:

— A dispute over the FBI's no-fly list. The appeal came from the Biden administration in a case involving an Oregon man who was once on the list but was removed years ago. A federal appeals court said he could move forward with his lawsuit because the FBI never rejected his original recording.

– A copyright case involving a hit by hip-hop artist Flo Rida, in which he used a third-party song from the 1980s. Music publishers sued for copyright infringement over the 2008 song "In the Ayer" are challenging a lower court ruling against them.

– A plea from landowners in Southeast Texas seeking compensation from the state for the effective expropriation of their property. Their lawsuit alleges that a successful project to rehabilitate Interstate 10 and make it passable during inclement weather during heavy rains would result in severe flooding on their properties.

The new social media cases follow conflicting rulings from two appeals courts, one upholding the Texas law while the other struck down the Florida law. By a 5-4 vote, the justices kept the Texas law on hold while litigation over it continues.

But the direction was unusual. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted to grant an emergency request from two tech industry groups that had challenged the law in federal court.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch would have allowed the law to remain in effect. In contradiction, Alito wrote, “Social media platforms have changed the way people communicate and receive news.”

Proponents of the laws, including elected Republicans in several states that have similar measures, have sought to portray social media companies as broadly holding liberal views and as hostile to ideas outside that view, particularly from the political right.

The tech sector warned that the laws would prevent platforms from eliminating extremism and hate speech.

“Online services have a First Amendment right to host, curate and share content as they see fit,” Chris Marchese, litigation director at industry group NetChoice, said in a statement. “The Internet is a vital free platform.” Expression of opinion and it must remain free from state censorship. We are confident the court will agree.”

Without issuing an explanation, the justices had postponed consideration of the case, even though both sides agreed that the Supreme Court should intervene.

Last year, the justices grappled with other social media matters, including a plea that the court did not accept to loosen the legal protections tech companies have over their users' posts.