All eyes will be on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas now that the Texas “censorship” law will go into effect.
ProtocolThomas would receive a gift if he challenges the law as it stands. In the past, Thomas argued social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were “sufficiently akin” to “common carriers,” and as such, users should not be denied access to the platforms based on their viewpoints.
Protocol also reported that last year Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court had “no choice” but to “address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.”
After the Fifth Circuit upheld the controversial law earlier this week, experts stated that this could be Thomas’ opportunity to go after Section 230, which some conservatives argued allowed social media platforms to censor right-of-center content without consequences.
He took Sec. 220 in [a] case that didn’t even present the issue in any way at all. So one that presents the issue, I think he’ll certainly jump on that,” David Greene, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Protocol.
Others said social media companies wanted the issue to be taken up in the Court’s “shadow docket,” where cases were heard without oral argument.
“I just don’t see how social media companies can risk having this law stay on the books,” University of Texas at Austin law professor, Steve Vladeck, told Protocol. “There will be a ton of pressure to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the stay.” Vladeck has argued over a dozen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He also said the Supreme Court became more active when intervening in cases of social significance.
“The reality here is that the Fifth Circuit stay is going to create such an immediate impact that it’s going to be hard for the court to think that it’s appropriate to wait,” he noted to Protocol.
The loss caused panic among tech organizations like NetChoice and Computer and Communications Industry Associations (CCIA).
NetChoice, the plaintiff in the lawsuit to stop the law, sued Texas and Florida over “censorship” laws last year and argued that the laws violated the First Amendment.
“Allowing HB 20 to take effect will inflict significant harm on Texans by threatening the safety of users, creators, and businesses that use these websites to reach audiences in a family-friendly way,” Steve DelBianco, President and CEO of NetChoice, said in a statement at the time. “No American should ever be forced to navigate through harmful and offensive images, videos and posts.”
To summarize, Protocol, CCIA president Matt Schruers affirmed that “[n]o option is off the table” to stop the law.
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