Supreme Court decision on state social media laws portends free speech victories

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Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Moody v. NetChoice & CCIA and NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton, two related cases reviewing state laws in Florida and Texas concerning content moderation on social media platforms. The Court remanded the two cases to the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits with instructions for further consideration. The Competitive Enterprise Institute joined an amicus brief filed by the Reason Foundation in these cases. CEI experts commended the Court for its handling of First Amendment considerations.

Jessica Melugin, director of CEI’s Center for Technology and Innovation:

“Today’s decision to neither uphold nor strike down Florida and Texas’ social media laws, but instead to send the questions back to lower courts for a more thorough examination of the laws and their constitutionality, portends a free speech victory for the future of the Internet. The decision includes warnings to not ignore the precedents of the Supreme Court that upheld the protections afforded to ‘particular edited compilation(s) of third-party speech,’ as these state laws intended. It would be hard to say it any better than the decision itself: ‘However imperfect the private marketplace of ideas, here was a worse proposal—the government itself deciding when speech was imbalanced, and then coercing speakers to provide more of some views or less of others.”

Dan Greenberg, CEI general counsel:

“With this decision, the Supreme Court put a 21st century spin on A.J. Liebling’s famous maxim: ‘Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.’ But the NetChoice opinion also highlights the fact that when Internet platforms are afforded their First Amendment rights, the rest of the world benefits from it. In short, our First Amendment rights are protected when the compilers themselves are allowed to make their own decisions about how to curate the expression of others, and not when the government tells the compilers how to run the show.”

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