ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (May 12, 2022) – This week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in NetChoice v. Paxton, a lawsuit challenging HB 20, a law Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed in 2021 to thwart efforts to suppress conservative speech on social media platforms. On May 11, the court stayed the injunction won by NetChoice, allowing the law to be enforced while the challenge proceeds.
The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank based in Illinois, filed an amicus brief with the Fifth Circuit in support of the law. That brief was cited by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in his filing with the court.
HB 20 prohibits social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users from moderating content based on “the viewpoint of the user” or “the viewpoint represented in the user’s expression.” NetChoice challenged the law, saying it violated the First Amendment rights of social media companies to moderate their platforms as they see fit.
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“Freedom of speech scored a huge victory yesterday with the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a woefully poor decision by an Obama-appointed judge. Big Tech will no longer be able to silence conservative speech in the 21st-century version of the public town square. The Heartland Institute was proud to submit an amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit supporting the Texas free speech law.”
“As we’ve explained to lawmakers in more than 30 states, and as the Fifth Circuit Court rightly probed, Big Tech’s claim of a First Amendment right to censor online speech is incongruent with the liability shield they enjoy as content curators under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The Fifth Circuit seems to see this as mere legal maneuvering to avoid accountability to users and lawmakers.”
“It is a shame that Americans have to sue Big Tech to enjoy the freedom of speech they enjoyed on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter just a few years ago. But the 2016 election changed everything. The Big Tech oligarchs will never forgive themselves for not more-tightly controlling political speech online, which they blame for the defeat of Hillary Clinton at the hands of Donald Trump.
“We now live in a world in which a handful of powerful people who control the digital town square allow one side of the political spectrum – the left side – to speak as they wish, and suppress the speech of conservatives. This unfair and un-American practice must end, even if it takes court orders to do so.”