Texas Can’t Start Enforcing Social Media Law, Says SCOTUS

The Supreme Court has temporarily blocked enforcement of a Texas tech law. The law treats large social media platforms like common carriers and prohibits them from making independent decisions about content moderation.

Specifically, the law bans large tech companies from viewpoint-based blocking, restricting, or editorializing about social media content—a purview large enough to prevent platforms from moderating even the types of content that few would object to a private company limiting. It also requires them to set up an appeal system for users whose content is removed.

The US District Court for the Western District of Texas held last December that the Texas social media law was unconstitutional. But the law recently scored a win with the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which in May issued a stay on the district court’s decision.

That meant Texas was free to start enforcing the law.

In response, tech industry groups NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) asked the Supreme Court to intervene and vacate the 5th Circuit’s stay.

And now it has, in a 5-4 decision issued Tuesday.

The majority—a conservative-liberal mix that included Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—did not offer reasoning for their ruling.

A dissent penned by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, can be found here. Justice Elena Kagan also dissented.

SCOTUS’ decision means that Texas cannot start trying to treat large internet platforms like common carriers while the case plays out. But the 5th Circuit is still mulling the merits of the NetChoice and CCIA case against the law.


FREE MINDS

Data on fentanyl seizures at the Southern border challenges the conservative narrative:


FREE MARKETS

Will the city of Austin defy a potential Texas law criminalizing abortion? The state law—which makes it a felony to perform an abortion—will go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Some believe the law’s language is loose enough that it would criminalize not just abortion doctors but women who try to self-induce an abortion with medication. But in Austin, “Councilmember Chito Vela is proposing a resolution that would direct the city’s police department to make criminal enforcement, arrest and investigation of abortions its lowest priority and restrict city funds and city staff from being used to investigate catalog or report suspected abortions ,” notes Politico.

“This is not an academic conversation,” Vela told Politico. “This is a very real conversation where people’s lives could be destroyed by these criminal prosecutions. In Texas, you’re an adult at 17. We are looking at the prospect of a 17-year-old girl who has an unplanned pregnancy and is seeking an abortion [being] subjected to first-degree felony charges — up to 99 years in jail — and that’s just absolutely unacceptable.”


FOLLOWUP

• News that the Uvalde, Texas, shooter entered Robb Elementary School through a door a teacher left propped open turns out to be false. Video footage shows the teacher shutting the door, which was supposed to lock automatically when closed but for some reason did not.

• “The Uvalde Police Department and the Uvalde Independent School District police force are no longer cooperating with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the mosque at Robb Elementary School and the state’s review of the law enforcement response,” ABC News reports.

• The first funerals for victims of the Uvalde shooting were held on Tuesday for 10-year-old Amerie Joe Garza and for Ellie Garcia, who would have turned 10 on Saturday. “This week alone there will be 11 funerals,” The Texas Tribune reports.


QUICK HITS

• The Department of Justice is appealing the court ruling ending the federal mask mandate on airplanes and other transit.

• A new Gallup poll on economic confidence finds “the lowest reading in Gallup’s trend during the coronavirus pandemic, and likely the lowest confidence has been since the tail end of the Great Recession in early 2009.”

• “The good news is that there are some promising technical solutions for making plastics infinitely recyclable on the horizon,” writes Reason‘s Ron Bailey in response to a recent Atlantic article that said plastics recycling will never work so single-use plastics should be banned.

• Are Democrats souring on Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D–Minn.) antitrust bill?

• A reminder that JD Vance wants to ban porn.

• What?

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