JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Laws in Florida and Texas aimed at preventing censorship by social media companies are headed to the US Supreme Court.
After the de-throttling of the Hunter Biden laptop story, the removal of certain opinions related to the pandemic and the removal of former President Donald Trump from social media platforms following the January 6th Capitol Riot, Florida and Texas enacted laws seeking to prevent social media companies from banning certain users and content.
“If you’re claiming that you are the public square then you need to behave like the public square,” State Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) said.
Fine supported the bill in the Florida Legislature, which prohibited social media companies from banning political candidates and journalists.
It also allowed regular users to sue the platforms if they believed they were wrongly banned.
The law was blocked before ever taking effect, but with the case now heading to the US Supreme Court, Fine is hopeful it will be upheld in full.
“I know what I hope they do and that’s stand up for the people of Florida and the people of the United States who have a right to free and unfettered discussion,” Fine said.
But NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo argued it’s Florida and Texas that are the ones aiming to prohibit free speech.
“What we are seeing out of the states of Florida and Texas is a push to force social media platforms to host lawful but awful content. Stuff like animal abuse videos,” Szabo said.
NetChoice is one of the groups representing tech companies in the suit.
Szabo argued the lower courts got it right when they found the law violated social media companies’ free speech rights by forcing them to host speech they disagree with, and he said he’s confident the US Supreme Court will uphold those rulings.
“It is social media platforms’ right to host only what they want to host and it’s your right as a consumer to be able to go to whatever website that you want. And that’s where NetChoice stands, that’s where this case stands and that’s ultimately what it’s all about,” said Szabo.
The case is slated to be heard in February.
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A ruling is expected sometime next summer.