WASHINGTON—Social media companies filed an emergency appeal late last night asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the stay on a Texas law that limits the companies’ power to moderate speech on their platforms. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted the stay while it considers the merits of the social media companies’ legal challenge. Last month, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed an amicus brief in the case in support of the social media companies’ challenge to the law’s key provision, but urged the court to reject both Texas’s and the social media companies’ broadest arguments about how the First Amendment should apply to social media platforms.

The following can be attributed to Scott Wilkens, senior staff attorney with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

“The appeals court was wrong to let Texas’s law go into effect, and we hope the Supreme Court will reverse that decision. As we said in a brief filed with the Fifth Circuit a few weeks ago, Texas’s law violates the First Amendment because it compels social media companies to publish speech they don’t want to publish, and because it prevents them from responding to speech they disagree with. In addition, the theory of the First Amendment that Texas is advancing in this case would give government broad power to censor and distort public discourse. The Texas law’s transparency provisions present a difficult constitutional question, but the law’s must-carry provision is plainly unconstitutional and should be struck down. At the very least, enforcement of the law should be stayed until the legal challenge to the law has been resolved.”

Read the social media companies’ emergency application here.

Read the Knight Institute’s amicus brief here.

In November of last year, the Knight Institute filed an amicus brief in a similar case challenging Florida’s social media law. Read more about that case here

Lawyers on the case, in addition to Wilkens, include Jameel Jaffer and Alex Abdo, for the Knight Institute.

For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, lorraine.kenny@knightcolumbia.org