The Supreme Court announced Friday that it would be taking up two major First Amendment cases, challenging a pair of Florida and Texas laws allowing states to control how large social media companies moderate content.
The GOP-backed laws, both passed in 2021, make it illegal for social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to suspend or punish users in many cases, particularly in instances Republican lawmakers characterize as being biased against conservatives.
Two tech industry trade groups, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), challenged the laws in short order, accusing the states of violating the First Amendment by unlawfully instructing how private platforms moderate speech on their platforms.
“It is high time that the Supreme Court resolves whether governments can force websites to publish dangerous content.”
“This order is encouraging. It is high time that the Supreme Court resolves whether governments can force websites to publish dangerous content,” CCIA president Matt Schruers said in a statement Friday. “Telling private websites they must give equal treatment to extremist hate isn’t just unwise, it is unconstitutional, and we look forward to demonstrating that to the Court.”
In August, the Biden administration recommended that the court weigh in on whether the laws violate the First Amendment rights of platform operators and provisions requiring the platforms to publicly explain their decisions to edit or remove content. Former President Donald Trump filed a brief urging the court to uphold the Florida law.
The Supreme Court isn’t expected to make a decision on either of these cases until sometime next year. Still, that decision is likely to come in the middle of the 2024 presidential election season. Content moderation has been a divisive issue between the US’s two political parties, with Democrats demanding more moderation, especially in cases of mis- and disinformation, and Republicans arguing for less.