WASHINGTON – A divided Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law, championed by conservatives, that aimed to keep social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their viewpoints.
The court ruled in an unusual 5-4 alignment Tuesday to put the Texas law on hold, while a lawsuit plays out in lower courts.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted to grant the emergency request from two technology industry groups that challenged the law in federal court.
The majority provided no explanation for its decision, as is common in emergency matters on what is informally known as the court’s “shadow docket.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch would have allowed the law to remain in effect.
In dissent, Alito wrote, “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news.”
It’s not clear how the high court’s past First Amendment cases, many of which predate the internet age, apply to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other digital platforms, Alito wrote in an opinion joined by fellow conservatives Thomas and Gorsuch but not Kagan.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.