Big Tech Challenging Texas Anti-Censorship Law in Supreme Court

Big Tech companies are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal in their case against Texas over its new law prohibiting political censorship on social media platforms.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and NetChoice are two tech firm advocacy groups that filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court last Friday on behalf of a group of large tech companies, including Google and Facebook.

NetChoice attorney Chris Marchese argued in the filing that the Texas law “strips online businesses of their speech rights.” He also alleges that the law that went into effect last Wednesday prohibits companies from making editorial decisions protected by the First Amendment while compelling them to publish content they find objectionable.

Marchese also claimed that if the Texas law is allowed to stand, it will mean that for government to “violate free speech, it need only claim to be protecting it.” He also argued that the tech companies will suffer economically because of the law. He said that advertisers will remove their ads from platforms if they are forced to have them appear near “vile, objectionable expression.”

On Saturday, Justice Samuel Alito instructed the Texas attorney general to file a response to the emergency application by Wednesday of this week.

The law permits private citizens as well as the state attorney general to sue social media companies for claims that social media accounts have been censored based on political viewpoints.

The law was blocked by a federal district court judge last September immediately after it was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The injunction against the law was lifted last week by a federal appeals court.

The Texas law was enacted amid claims that big tech companies have used Terms of Service agreements with account holders to censor the expression of conservative and right-wing positions on social media.

Social media platforms have used the “misinformation” label to censor and discredit comments and stories that they consider dangerous to their leftist political viewpoints. The most notorious example might be the censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story as “Russian disinformation” during the 2020 election cycle, although it was ultimately confirmed the story was accurate.

Billionaire Elon Musk has cited big tech censorship and hostility toward free speech as a primary reason he has entered into an agreement to purchase social media giant Twitter for a reported $44 billion.