The Supreme Court announced Friday that it would take up two major First Amendment cases, challenging a pair of Florida and Texas laws that allow states to control how big 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 cases that Republican lawmakers characterize as biased against conservatives.
Two tech industry trade groups, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), challenged the laws in short order, accusing states of violating the First Amendment by illegally mandating how private platforms moderate speech on their platforms.
“It is time for the Supreme Court to rule on whether governments can force websites to publish dangerous content.”
“This order is encouraging. It is time for the Supreme Court to rule on whether governments can force websites to post dangerous content,” CCIA President Matt Schruers said in a statement Friday. “Telling private websites that they must treat extremist hate the same is not only reckless, it is unconstitutional, and we look forward to proving that to the Court.”
In August, the Biden administration recommended that the court evaluate whether the laws violate platform operators’ First Amendment rights and provisions requiring platforms to publicly explain their decisions to edit or remove content. Former President Donald Trump filed a brief urging the court to uphold Florida law.
The Supreme Court is not expected to rule on any of these cases until 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 two U.S. political parties, with Democrats demanding more moderation, especially in cases of information misinformation and disinformation, and Republicans advocate for less.