Supreme Court Sidesteps Ruling on Social Media Censorship Laws

Floating mouths talking over supreme court
Supreme Court Social Media Ruling Steven Frame/Shutterstock ugguggu/Shutterstock

On July 1, the Supreme Court ordered lower courts to take a second look at two Republican-endorsed social media laws. 

The 2021 laws, which are based on lawsuits in Florida and Texas, would limit social media platforms’ ability to remove or downrank content that the platforms find objectionable.

In other words, these laws would allow state governments to regulate social media platforms’ content moderation practices.

Unsurprisingly, tech companies, which were represented by a tech trade organization called NetChoice, weren’t big fans of these laws. They argued that the laws violated platforms’ First Amendment rights to moderate content as they see fit.

What did the Supreme Court social media ruling say?

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan appeared to agree with the platforms’ line of argument, as she wrote for the majority court opinion that social media sites like YouTube and Facebook have the First Amendment right to moderate and curate users’ posts.

However, the court declined to rule on these specific laws, instead pushing the review back to lower courts.

Why? The judges essentially said they didn’t have enough information to determine whether these statutes violate anyone’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech. It’s up to the lower courts to examine these laws more closely and provide that information.

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