Trump Appointed Judge Rules Against Social Media Companies

( A setback for industry groups claiming the law will turn platforms into havens for hazardous content, a U.S. appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a Texas law prohibiting major social media sites from barring or filtering users based on “viewpoint.”

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, signed House Bill 20, also known as H.B. 20, into law in September 2021, placing restrictions on tech companies with more than 50 million monthly users.

Supporters of the measure claimed that it prevented tech corporations, such as Donald Trump, from censoring public individuals for their opinions. Its critics and the tech companies said that this meant they could not filter harmful content like Nazi propaganda.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the Texas law on Friday.

Judge Andrew Oldham, a Trump appointee, noted in the decision, “Today we reject the concept that companies have an unconstrained First Amendment right to regulate what people say.”

Asserting that “hidden somewhere in the person’s enumerated right to free expression lies a corporation’s unenumerated power to suppress speech,” he claimed that the platforms advocated for “a somewhat weird inversion of the First Amendment.”

The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, was ecstatic about Friday’s decision.
He tweeted, “BREAKING: I just won a MASSIVE VICTORY for the Constitution & Free Speech in Federal Court.”

The decision in New Orleans conflicts with one made by the 11th Circuit, an appeals court based in Atlanta, which found in May that a Florida statute similar to the one in Texas was unconstitutional.
Due to the conflicting rulings, it is now more probable that the Supreme Court will hear the cases, which conservative and right-wing critics have argued is essential to stop “Big Tech” from stifling their opinions.

The rule was challenged by NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube among its members. Both organizations lost in Friday’s decision.

They have fought to protect their ability to control user content when they think it might incite violence, claiming worries that unchecked platforms might assist extremists like terrorists, Nazi sympathizers, and hostile foreign governments.

The group stated Friday that it opposed requiring private businesses to serve all opinions equally.

They said that “God Bless America” and “Death to America” are both perspectives and that it would be foolish and unconstitutional for the state of Texas to require a private enterprise to treat them equally.