Washington – Supreme Court Justices have asked the federal government’s chief appellate lawyer, the Solicitor General of the United States, to weigh in on the Florida and Texas social media laws that some lower courts found to violate constitutional free speech protections. The request follows a closed conference Friday where Justices considered which cases to review.
The Texas and Florida laws were an attempt to exert state government control over online companies that host user content, and so far have been blocked from being enforced in response to challenges mounted by CCIA and co-plaintiff NetChoice under the First Amendment.
Previous cases involving media and other companies have ruled that the First Amendment protects individuals and private companies from government intrusion into their right to speak, which includes the right not to be compelled to publish or display particular content.
These cases could impact what internet users can see and do and are being closely watched by constitutional scholars, state legislators, and a range of businesses and websites that host user content online. The outcome of today’s request for Solicitor General input means the court would likely not take up this matter until next session.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for free speech online for nearly 30 years.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“The Court’s request for the views of the Solicitor General underscores the importance of these cases. It is crucial that the Supreme Court ultimately resolve this matter: it would be a dangerous precedent to let government insert itself into the decisions private companies make on what material to publish or disseminate online. The First Amendment protects both the right to speak and the right not to be compelled to speak, and we should not underestimate the consequences of giving government control over online speech in a democracy.”