On September 9th, 2021, Gov. Abbott signed HB 20, Texas’ “anti-bias” law in a move designed to fire a major volley at America’s leading businesses and fight unfound allegations of conservative bias.
HB 20 follows a bill of similar nature and characteristics, Florida SB 7072, that was already preliminarily enjoined in the Northern District of Florida Tallahassee Division. However, Texas’s HB 20 takes these restrictions a step further.
For this reason, NetChoice and CCIA took the step to challenge HB 20 (formerly known as SB 5 and SB 12) on multiple constitutional grounds to protect Texas consumers, small businesses, and free speech.
NetChoice and CCIA filed suit to enjoin and invalidate HB 20 and defend the First Amendment and other constitutional rights of private businesses on September 22, 2021.
CCIA press release, “CCIA, NetChoice File Lawsuit Against Unconstitutional Texas Social Media Law”
The NetChoice and CCIA lawsuit explained that:
- Internet platforms have a First Amendment right to curate content and decide whether to host specific instances of speech as they see fit.
- The Act does not prevent censorship but empowers the State of Texas to police and control speech online, overriding the First Amendment rights of online businesses.
- The Act tramples the First Amendment by allowing the government to force private businesses to host speech they don’t want to.
- The Act discriminates against specific speakers by only targeting businesses over a certain size.
- The Act will fail under any level of First Amendment analysis as it is not narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest.
Find the full NetChoice and CCIA lawsuit here.
NetChoice and CCIA filed a motion for preliminary injunction on September 30, 2021.
NetChoice press release, “NetChoice and CCIA Co-File Preliminary Injunction Request for NetChoice and CCIA v. Paxton”
Further court documents for the motion for preliminary injunction filed June 4th, 2021.
- Plaintiffs’ unopposed motion for leave to file over-length motion for preliminary injunction
- Court’s grant of plaintiffs’ unopposed motion
- Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction.
- NetChoice Declaration
- CCIA Declaration
Third-party support of the motion for preliminary injunction.
NetChoice and CCIA were granted their Preliminary Injunction on December 1st, 2021.
NetChoice Press Statement: “Free Speech Victory: Federal District Court Blocks Texas Social Media Law”
CCIA Press Statement: “Texas Judge Blocks Unconstitutional Texas Social Media Law,”
The ruling joins a similar ruling from the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division on SB 7072, in which the Court granted a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of Florida’s SB 7072 on constitutional grounds to protect Florida consumers, small businesses, and free speech.
As President and CEO, Steve works with NetChoice members to set and execute the NetChoice agenda. Steve has become a well-known expert on Internet governance, online consumer protection, and Internet taxation. He’s provided expert testimony in 25 Congressional hearings and many more state legislative sessions.
Steve advocates for NetChoice positions at the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he serves on the Private Enterprise Board. Moreover, Steve regularly enters the lion’s den at the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, where he’s the lone opponent of new tax burdens on Internet commerce.
As Vice President and General Counsel, Carl analyzes tech-related legislative and regulatory initiatives relevant to online companies. He monitors and analyzes Federal and state legislation. Carl is also an adjunct professor of internet law at the George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School.
Carl obtained his J.D. and Communications Law Certificate from the Catholic University of America, magna cum laude, and Carl obtained his B.A. in Economics, Managerial Studies, and Policy Studies from Rice University. Carl is licensed to practice law in Washington, DC and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US)
As Director of Public Affairs, Robert works to publicize and promote our work to key audiences, acting as the bridge between complex issues in technology policy and regular political dialogue. Robert works to ensure that NetChoice is effectively publicized, reaching both traditional and non-traditional audiences.
Before joining NetChoice, Robert worked as the Digital Marketing & Outreach Manager at TechFreedom, where he focused on analyzing ways to better understand how the public perceived these issues through message testing and paid advertising. He is deeply interested in working to curb populist demands that undermine technology’s positive impact on human wellbeing and prosperity.
As Counsel, Chris analyzes technology-related legislative and regulatory issues at both the federal and state level. His portfolio includes monitoring and analyzing proposals to amend § 230 of the Communications Decency Act, antitrust enforcement, and potential barriers to free speech and free enterprise on the internet.
Before joining NetChoice in 2019, Chris worked as a law clerk at the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, where he analyzed legal issues relevant to the business community, including state-court decisions that threatened traditional liability rules. Chris earned his J.D. from Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and earned a B.A. in History and Political Science at Boston College, graduating cum laude from both institutions. Chris is a member of the D.C. bar.
NetChoice and CCIA filed suit to enjoin and invalidate SB 7072 and defend the First Amendment and other constitutional rights of private businesses on May 27th, 2021.
NetChoice and CCIA were Granted their Preliminary Injunction on June 30th, 2021.
NetChoice Press Statement: “Northern District of Florida’s Order Preliminary Enjoins Unconstitutional Law.”
CCIA Press Statement: “Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Blocking Unconstitutional Florida Law.”
Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division, Trial Court Ruling provided on June 30th, 2021.
- As the court said: “This order preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the parts of the legislation that are preempted or violate the First Amendment.”
The NetChoice and CCIA lawsuit explained that:
- The Act brazenly infringes and facially violates the First Amendment rights of America’s leading businesses by compelling them to host even highly objectionable content that is not appropriate for all viewers, violates their terms of service, or conflicts with the companies’ policies and beliefs.
- The Act does not prevent censorship but makes the State the supervisor of online conduct and morals, overriding the community guidelines of online businesses in violation of the First Amendment.
- The Act further violates the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause by arbitrarily favoring popular and larger businesses like Disney and Universal Studios from its scope simply because they own well-attended “theme parks” while irrationally targeting also popular social media companies for speech restrictions and disfavored governmental treatment.
Texas’ businesses and technology companies have worked hard to create a safe internet, free from harmful and downright offensive content.