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Supreme Court temporarily blocks Texas law restricting censorship from social media companies

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unusual vote temporarily blocking a Texas law meant to place restrictions on social media companies censoring the speech of their users.

The ruling was 5 to 4, with liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer joining conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett in the majority.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan and conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented with the ruling.

The law would have allowed social media users to sue companies if their speech were impeded on their platforms. It also designates the social media channels as “common carriers” similar to railroads and phone companies.

Tech companies sued to block the law based on the argument that it violated their free speech rights by forcing them to publish objectionable speech on their platforms.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the law, known as House Bill 20, into effect on Sept. 9 but it was struck down by a federal judge in December. The tech industry filed an emergency request to block the law after the federal appeals court for the Fifth Circuit ruled in May to undo the injunction while federal courts decided the ultimate fate of the law.

“Texas should not be required to seek preclearance from the federal courts before its laws go into effect,” Alito wrote in the dissent for himself, Thomas and Gorsuch.

The majority did not issue an explanation for its reasoning.

Conservatives have long accused social media companies of selectively applying their rules in order to punish those on the right far more than those on the left, effectively censoring their political speech.

Abbott said when he signed the bill that “there is a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas. That is wrong, and we will not allow it in Texas.”

Here’s more about the Texas social media law:


Why could a Texas law change how social media works in the state?

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