In a case that could have ramifications for a similar Florida law, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a Texas law that seeks to crack down on social-media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.
Justices, in a 5-4 ruling, reversed a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that would have allowed the Texas law to take effect while a legal battle continues.
The majority was made up of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Dissenting were Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch.
A U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction last year against the Texas law. But a divided panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April issued a stay of that preliminary injunction — allowing the Texas law to take effect.
The online industry groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association quickly asked that the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the stay, and the court majority agreed Tuesday.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that a similar Florida law unconstitutionally restricts free speech.
Gov. Ron DeSantis made the law one of his top 2021 legislative priorities, accusing tech companies of having a liberal bias and censoring speech by Republicans.
The law, in part, sought to prevent large social-media platforms from banning political candidates from their sites and to require companies to publish — and apply consistently — standards about issues such as banning users or blocking content.
NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association challenged the Florida law, arguing that it violated the First Amendment rights of companies and would harm their ability to moderate content on the platforms.
The Supreme Court majority did not explain its decision Tuesday.
In a dissent, Alito wrote that he had not “formed a definitive view on the novel legal questions” in the Texas case. “But precisely because of that, I am not comfortable intervening at this point in the proceedings,” he wrote.