Justice Clarence Thomas gives Florida more time to defend “Big Tech” crackdown law

by | Aug 23, 2022

  • Justice Clarence Thomas granted Florida more time to prepare a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the state’s new “Big Tech” crackdown law
  • The law was blocked on First Amendment grounds by a federal district judge in May
  • The law, championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, seeks to bar big tech companies like Facebook and Twitter from banning political officials and other content from their platforms
  • But conservative legal experts broke with DeSantis, arguing that the law infringes the free speech rights of corporations

Florida faces a Sept. 21 deadline for filing a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case about a 2021 state law that would crack down on social-media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

Justice Clarence Thomas last week granted the state’s request for an extension to file the petition in the closely watched case. Without the extension, a deadline would have expired Monday, according to the request filed by the state. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May upheld most of a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued last year blocking the law.

Hinkle and the appellate panel ruled that the law violated First Amendment rights. The law, approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis, targeted companies such as Facebook and Twitter over decisions to remove politicians and other users from the social-media platforms. DeSantis made a priority of the issue after Twitter and Facebook blocked former President Donald Trump from their platforms after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The law, in part, sought to prevent the platforms from banning political candidates from their sites and to require companies to publish — and apply consistently — standards about issues such as banning users or blocking their content. Companies could face penalties for violating restrictions in the law. For example, companies that remove political candidates from platforms could face fines of $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates.

Tech-industry groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association challenged the law, and Hinkle in June 2021 issued the injunction, calling the law “riddled with imprecision and ambiguity.”


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