FederalJudicialStatewide NewsFifth Circuit Court of Appeals Allows Texas’ Social Media Censorship Ban to Take Effect

The court says Texas’ law targeting social media censorship can take effect, but the plaintiff plans to appeal the order to the Supreme Court.
May 12, 2022
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On an appeal from Attorney General Ken Paxton, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a one-page order striking down a preliminary injunction that had prevented Texas’ new law aimed at curbing social media censorship from taking effect last December.

The order, a divided decision on the three-judge panel that did not include any explanatory opinion, effectively allows the law to take effect while the trial court that issued the injunction will continue to consider the arguments on the constitutionality of the law.

House Bill (HB) 20, authored by Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) and sponsored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), prohibits major social media platforms from censoring individuals based on their views and requires increased transparency from the companies.

“My office just secured another BIG WIN against BIG TECH,” tweeted Paxton with respect to the news. “HB20 is back in effect. The 5th Circuit made the right call here, and I look forward to continuing to defend the constitutionality of HB20.”

Gov. Greg Abbott called the order “A big win for free speech in Texas.”

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NetChoice, an organization that lobbies for big tech companies and the plaintiff in the lawsuit against HB 20, released a statement criticizing the court order as “unprecedented.”

“In an unusual and unfortunate move, a split 2-1 Fifth Circuit panel lifted the injunction without ruling on the merits and without issuing an opinion explaining the order,” said Carl Szabo, the vice president and general counsel of NetChoice. “Because HB 20 is constitutionally rotten through and through, we are weighing our options and plan to appeal the order immediately.”

The appeal of NetChoice will give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to weigh in on whether or not the law can remain effective while the lawsuit pends at the trial court.

Disclaimer: The Texan submitted an amicus brief in support of House Bill 20.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.