Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Social Media Bans

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday listened to arguments in a pair of cases related to state laws prohibiting social media bans of users based on political beliefs.

These statutes in Texas and Florida attempt to uphold free speech principles against the growing tide of left-wing censorship in online platforms. They offer protection for unpopular speech that is currently erased under the guise of “content moderation.”

Scott Wilkens is senior counsel at the Knight First Amendment Institute. He said the two cases have “enormous scope” and represent the first time the high court has ruled “on the First Amendment rights on social media platforms.”

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed his satisfaction in the Supreme Court hearing the cases over the similar laws in Florida and Texas.

He declared, “Whatever the court decides, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to ensure that people have the right to speak in these public forums.”

Conservatives were outraged when former President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook after the Capitol protest on Jan. 6, 2021. His social media accounts were disabled in the aftermath, and the two states took action.

But the best intentions of Florida and Texas may not be enough to sway a seemingly skeptical Supreme Court.

During nearly four hours of arguments on Monday, justices questioned the laws signed in the two states and their possible sweeping consequences. And it was not just the usual liberal culprits.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett cautioned that the high court faces “landmines” it needs to avoid in ruling on the cases.

Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to side with those who equate social media platforms with newspapers that enjoy a wide array of free speech protections.

The conservative jurist asked, “since we’re talking about the First Amendment, whether our first concern should be with the state regulating what we have called the modern public square?”

Apparently siding with Florida and Texas were Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The latter asked if “content moderation” is simply a new term for censorship as it is almost universally used to keep certain material from the platforms.

And Thomas suggested that these media companies seek constitutional protection for engaging in censorship.