The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an anti-censorship Texas law. The Friday ruling in the New Orleans court allows Texas to enforce its law against big-tech practices that limit free speech, especially at social media giants like Facebook and Twitter.
The case runs counter to an Eleventh Circuit decision in Atlanta back in May, where the court ruled against a Florida law similar to the one in Texas. This “circuit split” makes it likely that the issue will come before the Supreme Court.
“I just secured a MASSIVE VICTORY for the Constitution & Free Speech in fed court,” tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued before Judges Jones, Southwick, and Oldham in defense of Texas bill HB20, which was signed into law last September by Governor Greg Abbott.
BREAKING: I just secured a MASSIVE VICTORY for the Constitution & Free Speech in fed court: #BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY Texan! The 5th Circuit “reject[s] the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say. pic.twitter.com/UijlzYcv7r
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) September 16, 2022
“#BigTech CANNOT censor the political voices of ANY Texan!” crowed Paxton.
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” wrote Judge Andrew Oldham in the ruling.
All three judges were appointed by Republican presidents. Donald Trump appointed Judge Oldham, George W. Bush appointed Judge Leslie Southwick, and Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Edith Jones.
Oldham continued in the ruling that the social media platforms argued for “a rather odd inversion of the First Amendment.” The platforms pressed the court to accept that “Buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech.”
An excerpt from the ruling:
“A Texas statute named House Bill 20 generally prohibits large social media platforms from censoring speech based on the viewpoint of its speaker. The platforms urge us to hold that the statute is facially unconstitutional and hence cannot be applied to anyone at any time and under any circumstances. In urging such sweeping relief, the platforms offer a rather odd inversion of the First Amendment. That Amendment, of course, protects every person’s right to “the freedom of speech.” But the platforms argue that buried somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free speech lies a corporation’s unenumerated right to muzzle speech.”
The Fifth Circuit decision, which contradicts the Atlanta ruling, makes it much more likely that the measures will be brought before the high court. Conservatives have argued that a Supreme Court ruling is the only thing left that can reverse Big Tech’s suppression of conservative views.
NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association were among the tech groups assembled to challenge the law. The latter Association includes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as members. It is incredible to think that the powerful big tech companies brought their most powerful forces to court to vigorously defend censorship in full-throated opposition to free speech.
The association said it disagreed with forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints.
“‘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,” said the association in a statement.
About that. “Death to America” was never banned on Twitter. Just search “Death to America” on Twitter and start counting accounts with that as their name. We stopped counting at 25. Add to that all the accounts with that expression in their description and the count gets higher.
One user, Moist Moon, describes herself this way: “A baby twitter account curated by an ancient hoe. she/her. Death to America. Shitposts and marxism.”
“God Bless America” is a sentiment far more likely to be censored.
For those concerned about the internet turning into a cesspool of profanity, lies and insane opinions – don’t be. What is being allowed back on the platforms is decency, common sense, and traditional thinking. This is an improvement. Profanity, lies and insane opinions were never banned on Facebook and Twitter. Granted, there are some pretty zany people on the right, but there is nothing so creepy and dark on that side to match the left. And no, Nazi propaganda is not coming from the right.
The left is beside itself about this ruling. YouTuber “Meidas Touch” made a video with the title “NEW: RIGHT WING Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ORDERS Social Media Companies MUST Allow Hate Speech,” which already has almost 300,000 views.
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