WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court today reinstated a stay against enforcement of a Texas law that limits social media companies’ power to moderate speech on their platforms. Earlier this month, 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, and the social media companies filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. In the appeals court, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed an amicus brief in support of the social media companies’ challenge to the law’s key provision, but it also 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.

“We’re pleased with the Supreme Court’s order. 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 more difficult constitutional question, but the law’s must-carry provision is plainly unconstitutional and should be struck down.”

Read today's decision here

Read the Knight Institute’s amicus brief here.

In November of last year, the Knight Institute filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a similar case challenging Florida’s social media law. On May 23, the court blocked a key part of the Florida law. At the same time, the court allowed most of the law’s disclosure requirements to go into effect. In its broad outline, the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion tracks the Knight Institute’s amicus brief. 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