Florida is asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the state’s dispute with big tech companies over how social media platforms can restrict or ban people and content online, sparking a major legal battle over free speech rights in the digital age.
Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that blocked a Sunshine State law that would have prevented social media companies from banning candidates and removing content.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in May that social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook likely have a First Amendment right to decide what’s on their platforms, and maintained a federal court ruling that prevented the passage of some Provisions of the law blocked .
Ms. Moody asked the Supreme Court to reverse the actions of the lower courts. She also urged judges to answer whether the constitution prevents states from forcing social media companies to host content and prevents states from forcing tech platforms to explain their censorship decisions.
“According to the Eleventh Circle’s reasoning, social media giants have First Amendment rights to remove any person from the modern city square for any reason, even if they are not following their own rules or are otherwise acting in bad faith,” said Ms. Moody wrote in a petition filed Wednesday. “This ruling robs states of their historical power to protect their citizens’ access to information, raising issues of national concern.”
Tech trade groups challenging Florida law hail High Court showdown
Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s vice president and general counsel, said his trade group agrees that the Florida Supreme Court should hear Florida’s case, and he said his team is confident he will prevail. His organization published Ms. Moody’s petition on its website. The tech companies are essentially arguing that they shouldn’t be forced to publish posts on their sites that violate their terms of service and policies.
“We look forward to seeing Florida in court and confirming the lower court’s decision,” Mr. Szabo said in a statement. “We have the Constitution and over a century of precedent on our side.”
Ms Moody also cited a split between federal appeals courts in cases involving moderation of social media content when she petitioned the Supreme Court to hear her case now. The Florida Attorney General noted that the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a similar Texas law, rejecting the argument that companies have a constitutional right to restrict speech on their online platforms.