Major Blow to Free Speech: Federal Judge Temporarily BLOCKS Florida Big Tech LawMajor Blow to Free Speech: Federal Judge Temporarily BLOCKS Florida Big Tech Law
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle granted a preliminary injunction that blocked Florida’s Big Tech law on June 30, only one day before it was supposed to go into effect. The law was intended to fine platforms who censored political candidates. The preliminary injunction only blocks the law from taking effect until a court makes a final decision.
The decision primarily discussed the role of the First Amendment. “First, the State has asserted it is on the side of the First Amendment; the plaintiffs are not. It is perhaps a nice sound bite. But the assertion is wholly at odds with accepted constitutional principles.” The decision continues to say: “The First Amendment does not restrict the rights of private entities not performing traditional, exclusive public functions.”
Hinkle also analyzed the case under the framework of strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is a legal standard that specifies “the legislature must have passed the law to further a ‘compelling governmental interest,’ and must have narrowly tailored the law to achieve that interest,” according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Hinkle continued to explain in his decision: “The legislation now at issue was an effort to rein in social-media providers deemed too large and too liberal. Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate governmental interest. And even aside from the actual motivation for this legislation, it is plainly content-based and subject to strict scrutiny.”
To combat the constant barrage of censorship against conservatives online, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed the state’s new pro-free speech law on May 24. The law prohibits platforms from deplatforming candidates. It would impose a fine of $100,000 per day for statewide candidates and $10,000 per day for censoring other candidates.
DeSantis has experienced Big Tech censorship himself. YouTube deleted a COVID-19 roundtable discussion that DeSantis held with several doctors. Former president Donald Trump was suspended from at least 10 Big Tech platforms following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Facebook announced that it will suspend Trump from Facebook for at least two years.
NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) filed a complaint against several high-ranking Florida officials in an attempt to block Florida’s new law combating Big Tech censorship. NetChoice and the CCIA each have connections to Big Tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon. Rather than consider the fact that Big Tech companies stifle free expression online, NetChoice and the CCIA attempted to frame Big Tech as the victim. The complaint alleged that the act “discriminates against and infringes the First Amendment rights of these targeted companies.”
Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.