Show Notes

Send us a Text Message.

THE SUPREME COURT WILL SOON DECIDE: If a social media censures you for your viewpoint – does that violate the First Amendment? If laws tell Social Media companies they must publish your viewpoint…is the company's First Amendment rights violated?

We all say we want free speech. But if you own a private company can the government tell you what it can and cannot post?  Are social media companies the public square…common carriers…or…private companies that can choose their own content?

That is the question before the Supreme Court. In this episode, Bob talks with Supreme Court scholar Eugene Volokh:

Facts of the case

The State of Texas enacted HB 20 to regulate large social media platforms, such as Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), and YouTube. The law purports to prohibit large social media platforms from censoring speech based on the viewpoint of the speaker.

NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Texas, challenging two provisions of the law as unconstitutional: (1) Section 7, which prohibits viewpoint-based censorship of users’ posts, except for content that incites criminal activity or is unlawful. (2) Section 2, which requires platforms to disclose how they moderate and promote content, publish an “acceptable use policy,” and maintain a complaint-and-appeal system for their users.

The district court issued a preliminary injunction, holding that Section 7 and Section 2 are facially unconstitutional. The court argued that social media platforms have some level of editorial discretion protected by the First Amendment, and HB 20 interferes with that discretion. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, rejecting the idea that large corporations have a “freewheeling” First Amendment right to censor what people say. It reasoned that HB 20 does not regulate the platforms’ speech but protects other people’s speech and regulates the platforms’ conduct.


Do Texas HB 20’s provisions prohibiting social media platforms from censoring users’ content and imposing stringent disclosure requirements violate the First Amendment?

Our guest:

Eugene Volokh teaches First Amendment law and a First Amendment amicus brief clinic at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, tort law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

Before coming to UCLA, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Volokh is the author of the textbooks The First Amendment and Related Statutes (6th ed. 2016), and Academic Legal Writing (5th ed. 2013), as well as over 90 law review articles. He is a member of The American Law Institute, a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, and the founder and coauthor of The Volokh Conspiracy, a leading legal blog. His law review articles have been cited by opinions in eight Supreme Court cases and several hundred court opinions in total, as well as several thousand scholarly articles.

Share episode:

Are you wondering if something

is even legal?

Suggest a topic supporting copy. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation.

Sign me up for the Newsletter!
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.