Florida’s attempt to restore its controversial social media law arrives in court | Techy Kings


This week’s petitions

The Petitions of the Week column highlights a selection of certificate petitions recently submitted to the Supreme Court. A list of all the petitions we are looking at is available here.

Last year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a landmark law aimed at curbing what the governor saw as excessive censorship of conservative views by social media companies. This week, we’re highlighting certs asking the court to consider, among other things, whether that law violates the First Amendment.

The law in question, SB 7072, contains a number of regulations regarding social media companies. It specifically requires companies to use the same criteria across all of their platforms when deciding to remove a post or delete an account, and prevents them from removing the account of any “journalistic enterprise” or political candidate in Florida. The law allows the companies to be sued by state prosecutors for violating hosting rules, and also by private citizens if they feel they have been unfairly censored.

When DeSantis signed the bill, they accused “massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley” of targeting conservative viewpoints for censorship. Specifically, the governor pointed to Twitter’s decision to remove President Donald Trump’s account in the aftermath of the storming of the US Capitol by a group of his supporters on January 6, 2021.

The law was immediately challenged in court. A federal district court in Florida preliminarily enjoined the law, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld much of that injunction. The court reasoned that the law’s hosting and censorship rules violate social media companies’ First Amendment right to determine what speech is expressed on their platforms.

IN Moody v. NetChoice, LLC, Florida is asking the judges to reinstate the law. The state argues that decisions by social media platforms to host or censor are not protected speech. The real First Amendment rights in question, the state argues, are their own residents, given that the biggest platforms essentially have a monopoly on social media expression. In urging the justices to grant the petition, Florida notes that the 11th Circuit’s ruling is in direct tension with a decision two weeks ago by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to reinstate a similar law in Texas.

A list of this week’s featured petitions is below:

Morrissey v. Mayorkas
Problem: Whether a discretionary dismissal without prejudice, which nevertheless functions as a dismissal with prejudice because it would end a case forever, is governed by a higher standard than a typical dismissal without prejudice.

Justice v. Jonathan R.
questions: (1) Whether federal courts must refrain from interfering in state court child welfare proceedings pursuant to Younger v. Harris; and (2) whether federal courts may refuse to abstain because plaintiffs seek class-wide relief.

Irons vs. USA
Problem: Whether errors in the calculation of the sentencing guidelines are rendered categorically harmless by the district court’s assertion that the guidelines would make no difference to the choice of sentence.

Moody v. NetChoice, LLC
questions: (1) Whether the First Amendment prohibits a state from requiring social media companies to host third-party communications and from regulating the time, place, and manner in which they do so; and (2) whether the First Amendment prohibits a state from requiring social media companies to notify and provide an explanation to their users when they censor the user’s speech.


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