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NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton

Key Takeaways:
  • 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.
  • We are awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States on whether to grant this case a writ of certiorari.
  • The Fifth Circuit's rulings on this case conflict with similar rulings in NetChoice v. Moody in the Eleventh Circuit.
What's At Stake
  • The First Amendment is under attack in Texas, where the government wishes to force websites to host political content they would otherwise remove.
  • Sites have the right to be able to take down harmful user posts to protect their users.
Case Brief

Case Status: In Progress

Latest Update: 01/22/2023

Steven P. Lehotsky Scott A. Keller Jonathan D. Urick Jeremy Evan Maltz Gabriela Gonzalez-Araiza Matthew H. Frederick Todd Disher

Lehotsky Keller LLP

  • District Court
    9/22/21 NetChoice & CCIA File the Initial Complaint
  • District Court
    10/01/21 NetChoice & CCIA File Request for Preliminary Injunction
  • District Court
    12/01/21 HB 20 is enjoined; AG may not enforce
  • 5th Circuit Appeals Court
    5/11/22 5th Cir. lifts injunction without opinion
  • US Supreme Court
    5/31/22 SCOTUS restores injunction
  • 5th Circuit Appeals Court
    9/16/22 5th Cir. lifts injunction (again) with opinion
  • 5th Circuit Appeals Court
    9/29/22 5th Cir. grants NetChoice motion; blocks TX from enforcing HB 20
  • Supreme Court of the United States
    12/15/22 NetChoice & CCIA petition SCOTUS to hear NetChoice v. Paxton
  • Supreme Court of the United States
    01/23/23 SCOTUS asks the U.S. Solicitor General to provide input on whether the Court should grant review

Internet platforms have a First Amendment right to curate content and decide whether to host specific instances of speech as they see fit. HB 20 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 law also tramples the First Amendment by allowing the government to force private businesses to host speech they don’t want to and discriminates against specific speakers by only targeting businesses over a certain size.

NetChoice Experts on HB 20

Chris Marchese

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.

Nicole Saad Bembridge

As Associate Counsel, Saad Bembridge focuses on NetChoice’s litigation and amicus efforts. She specializes in reviewing federal and state legislation that affect the First Amendment, freedom of speech, Section 230 and AI.

Before joining NetChoice, Saad Bembridge worked as a legal associate at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, where she co-authored twelve appellate amicus briefs, a policy analysis on content moderation paradigms, and provided analysis on a broad range of constitutional and statutory issues of first impression. During law school, she worked at the United Nations and at Georgetown University’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

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.

Carl Szabo

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)

Court Filings

Third-party support of the motion for preliminary injunction:

District court ruling, granting the Preliminary Injunction.

The State of Texas’ Opening Brief in 5th Circuit appealing the District Court’s ruling on the preliminary injunction.

The Fifth Circuit’s Order.

NetChoice and CCIA filing to SCOTUS

Amicus briefs in support of NetChoice & CCIA’s request. Please view this page to see a full summary of all the briefs:

The State of Texas’ brief in opposition to NetChoice and CCIA’s request. The state of Florida’s amicus brief supporting the State of Texas.

NetChoice and CCIA’s response to Texas’ brief.

The ruling from SCOTUS.

  • NetChoice & CCIA Unopposed Motion to Stay the Mandate Pending Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
  • Fifth Circuit approves the petition.
  • NetChoice & CCIA petitioned the Supreme Court to hear NetChoice v. Paxton. 
  • Texas response to NetChoice’s petition for certiorari.
  • NetChoice Reply Brief.
  • Solicitor General’s brief.
  • Texas reply to Solicitor General’s brief.
  • NetChoice reply to Solicitor General’s brief.