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Supreme Court Suspends Internet Moderation Prohibitions In Texas And Florida

The US solicitor general has been ordered by the Supreme Court to file papers in a series of lawsuits concerning internet moderation in Texas and Florida; as a result, the court is likely to delay taking one or both of the cases. The court requested the papers in a litany of orders published Monday morning, as highlighted by CNN correspondent Brian Fung this morning, asking President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice to develop a formal position on online expression.

Supreme Court Suspends Internet Moderation Prohibitions

The rulings involve NetChoice’s cases against the attorneys general of Florida Ashley Moody and Texas Ken Paxton and Moody’s counterclaim against NetChoice. Large web services are no longer allowed to suspend or otherwise punish users in many situations, especially those that Republican lawmakers have branded as biased towards conservative views, according to laws approved by both states. Both statutes have been put on hold by a series of interim injunctions; the Florida legislation as a result of an appeals court ruling, and the Texas law as a result of a NetChoice Supreme Court petition, where a dissenting opinion suggested the Supreme Court will probably review the matter.

Two cases that might have a significant influence on internet regulation are already scheduled for consideration by the Supreme Court in the near future. Gonzalez v. Google and Twitter v. Taamneh, which concern the application of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and US anti-terrorism law, will be heard by the court in February. Internet companies Reddit, Roblox, Microsoft, Meta, and the Wikimedia Foundation, among others, submitted briefs last week in favor of Google and urging the court to refrain from limiting its interpretation of Section 230.

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The Supreme Court Suspends Internet Moderation Prohibitions In Texas And Florida may result in even more broad rulings. Legislators from the state have maintained that mandating websites to refrain from editing content, such as hate speech or false information, does not go against the First Amendment’s ban on ordering businesses to carry particular viewpoints. Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative Supreme Court justice, has argued for a First Amendment interpretation that may uphold the regulations.

The current Republican initiative to govern social media moderation is expected to be opposed by Biden’s administration. However, Biden has pushed for nebulous legislative reforms that would force businesses to “bear responsibility” for the material on their platforms, which may put his administration in conflict with an approach to internet legislation that is more permissive.

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From the Editorials Team of CultsByte.

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