The US Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law that would ban large social media companies from removing posts based on the views they express.
According to the New York Times, the court’s brief order was unsigned and gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications.
The order was not the last word in the case, which is pending before a federal appeals court and may return to the Supreme Court.
The vote was 5 to 4, with an unusual coalition in dissent. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch — filed a dissent saying they would have let stand, for now at least, an appeals court order that left the law in place while the case moved forward. Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, also said she would have let the order stand, though she did not join the dissent and gave no reasons of her own.
Justice Alito wrote that the issues were so novel and significant that the Supreme Court would have to consider them at some point, the report said.
“This application concerns issues of great importance that will plainly merit this court’s review,” he wrote. “Social media platforms have transformed the way people communicate with each other and obtain news. At issue is a groundbreaking Texas law that addresses the power of dominant social media corporations to shape public discussion of the important issues of the day,” he added.
Justice Alito said he was skeptical of the argument that social media companies have editorial discretion protected by the First Amendment like that enjoyed by newspapers and other traditional publishers.
The law’s supporters said the measure was an attempt to combat what they called Silicon Valley censorship, saying major platforms had removed posts expressing conservative views.
The law was prompted in part by the decisions of some platforms to bar President Donald J. Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The law, H.B. 20, applies to social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It does not appear to reach smaller platforms that appeal to conservatives, like Truth Social and Gettr, the law’s challengers told the Supreme Court.