Texas, Florida ask Supreme Court to OK their assault on First Amendment

Texas Florida Greg Abbott Ron DeSantis First Amendment Supreme Court

Texas, Florida ask Supreme Court to OK their assault on First Amendment

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments yesterday on two pivotal cases concerning the assault on the First Amendment by “conservatives” in the so-called red states of Florida and Texas.

These cases — NetChoice v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice — will determine the future of freedom of speech online and the limits of future tech regulation (via TheVerge.com):

In Moody v. NetChoice and NetChoice v. Paxton, the court will decide on whether laws governing social media from Florida and Texas would violate the First Amendment by compelling the companies to host speech, even when they don’t want to. The laws were passed in 2021, after former President Donald Trump’s ouster from mainstream platforms following the insurrection on January 6th. They also resulted from long-held grievances from conservatives about what they view as social media censorship of their viewpoints.

The justices will determine whether social media platforms are more akin to newspapers that have the freedom to exercise editorial judgement, or like shopping malls that serve as gathering places for the public and can be made to host demonstrations. The outcome could impact not just big tech companies but nonprofit efforts like Wikipedia and more traditional publishing companies. (Emphasis mine)

So, what are Texas and Florida (via Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis) trying to really do?

It began in February 2021 when Ron DeSantis began laying the groundwork for his 2024 presidential run by introducing a batch of anti-free speech proposals. DeSantis, motivated by his full embrace of Trump’s four-years-long attack on free speech, claimed in a press conference at the time that the legislation he was promoting was necessary to “crack down” on Big Tech for their alleged bias against conservatives:

“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast, has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens.”

DeSantis then went on a rant about how ‘Big Tech’ was becoming more like ‘Big Brother’ with “each passing day” before revealing his true motivation behind Florida’s assault on the First Amendment: protecting party politics:

“Under our proposal, if a technology company de-platforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during an election, that company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored.”

Apparently, DeSantis never read 1984 because George Orwell uses “Big Brother” to describe tyrannical government, not free market businesses.

After passing the Republican-controlled Florida legislature, DeSantis signed the Florida law assaulting the First Amendment in May 2021.

Enter Gov. Greg Abbott and his 2022 midterm reelection. Following DeSantis’ lead, Abbott introduced a Texas version of the Republican assault on the First Amendment (SB-12), and using the same rationale peddled by the Florida governor, Abbott promised to go after Big Tech and save free speech by destroying it (my words).

“We need to recognize in Texas, maybe particularly in Texas, we see that the First Amendment is under assault by the social media companies and that is not going to be tolerated in Texas.”

Texas’ anti-free speech legislation was temporarily put on hold, but in the special session called by Abbott to address the overhaul of the state’s voting laws along with other issues, Texas Republicans revived their assault on the First Amendment (via USA Today):

The new law, passed in the final days of the second special session called by Abbott, would allow any Texas resident banned from Facebook, Twitter or Google’s YouTube for their political views to sue the companies. The state attorney general also would be able to sue on behalf of a user or a group of users.

It is similar to a Florida law that was blocked by a federal judge one day before it was set to take effect.

Florida was the first state to push through legislation when Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, signed a bill in May that penalizes social media companies for removing or barring the speech of politicians.

However, a federal judge temporarily blocked the [Florida] law after NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association – lobbying groups that represent Facebook, Google and other tech giants – sued. (Emphasis mine)

While it’s true that social media has engaged in far-left activity by silencing voices they don’t agree with — I’ve experienced some of this myself — their actions are not an “assault” on the free speech. In fact, the First Amendment protects private entities like social media companies from the very laws Texas and Florida are trying to pass.

Quite frankly, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis lied about the First Amendment being under assault by social media; if anything, it’s under assault by faux conservatives and Trumpists in the Republican Party.

The efforts by Abbott and DeSantis to shred the First Amendment Governor DeSantis are, as Judge Andrew Napolitano said in 2021, is clearly prevented by the Constitution:

“The government has no authority to evaluate speech. As the framers understood, all people have a natural right to think as we wish and to say and publish whatever we think. Even hateful, hurtful and harmful speech is protected speech.

“And in perilous times, such as the present, we have seen Big Tech companies silencing their opponents. I hate when they do that, but they have every right to do so. They own the bulletin board.

Twitter and Facebook can ban any speech they want because they are not the government. And the First Amendment only restrains the government. In the constitutional sense, free speech means only one thing — free from government interference. (Emphasis mine)

Florida and Texas aren’t the birthplaces of big tech demonization for political advantage; it was born in Washington.

Trump threatened to crush social media and other big tech companies for questioning his awesomeness, and he threatened to shut down platforms like Facebook and Twitter for displeasing him.

In May 2020, Trump took action on his threat with an executive order entitled, “Preventing Online Censorship” (POC) — an Orwellian order that called for an “update” to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, labeled government regulation of speech as free speech, and called any resistance to government messaging (i.e. propaganda) “censorship.”

In addition, POC included new ways for the government to control internet content and spy on internet users.

Republicans in “red states” like Florida and Texas used to believe in free speech, but now they have launched an assault against it.

The only way to rein in the power of anti-First Amendment zealots like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott and protect our God-given rights against their assault is to reject the collectivist politics of the Republican Party — along with Trumpism and nationalism — and strictly adhere to the Constitution.


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to receive podcasts of his daily radio feature: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | iHeart | RSS

For media inquiries or to have David speak to your group, use the Contact Us form.

1 comment for “Texas, Florida ask Supreme Court to OK their assault on First Amendment

Comments are closed.