The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has given room for Texans to file lawsuits against social media platforms that ban users for political posts. Known as HB 20, the Texas law empowers people who are suspended on banned from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for their political views to sue the social technology companies.
A federal judge in December 2021 had made it impossible for people to sue these social media companies after being banned in relation to political posts, but the federal appeals court has suspended that injunction and made it possible for banned users to sue. The power to sue was challenged in court by CCIA and NetChoice as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
However, it is left for legal pundits to determine if the latest action of the Court of Appeals can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Texas law was inspired by the January 2021 suspension of former President Donald Trump from Twitter and Facebook following the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection. The Trump ban fueled the notion among several conservatives that the social media platforms leaned left and clamped down on the political views of right-wingers.
The conservatives contend that under the First Amendment, social media platforms are empowered to monitor and delete users’ posts as they deem fit. But the tech companies said this is not true, and that they only monitor their platforms to remove hate speech and extremist views that can inflame the polity. They made it clear that conservatives are not targeted in any form.
The CEO of the Chamber of Progress, Adam Kovacevich, lamented that it is harmful to not monitor hate speech or extremist social views.
“Multiple federal judges have affirmed over the years that online platforms have a First Amendment right to decide what appears on their platforms, and these judges chucked that principle overboard,” Kovacevich said. “The MAGA right has said for years they don’t want platforms to moderate content, and unfortunately we’re about to see their dreams come true.”