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NetChoice & CCIA v. Paxton

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After Gov. Abbott signed HB 20 into law in Texas, 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.

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.

Case Timeline

Because of the immediate unconstitutional harm HB 20 would do if it were allowed to take effect, NetChoice and CCIA filed a motion for preliminary injunction on September 30, 2021, and it was granted December 1st, 2021. The ruling was similar to a 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.

The State of Texas appealed NetChoice and CCIA’s Preliminary Injunction granted by the Fifth Circuit, and on May 11, 2022, the Fifth Circuit lifted the district court’s injunction on HB 20.

On May 13, 2022, NetChoice and CCIA filed an Emergency Application for Immediate Relief to the Supreme Court of the United States, seeking to get the Fifth Circuit Corder Order overturned. On May-17 and 18, amicus briefs were filed by several organizations in support of NetChoice & CCIA’s request.

On May 19, 2022, The State of Texas filed their brief in opposition to NetChoice and CCIA’s request. The state of Florida also filed an amicus brief supporting the State of Texas and opposing NetChoice & CCIA. Texas also filed its response brief on the same day. NetChoice & CCIA filed a response to that brief the next day (May-19).

On May 31, 2022, SCOTUS ruled on NetChoice & CCIA’s application for emergency relief.

On September 16, 2022, the Fifth Circuit issued a split decision 2-1, ruling in favor of Texas’s appeal. 

On September 29, 2022, NetChoice & CCIA filed a request for Fifth Circuit to stay HB 20 pending a petition of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.

On October 12, 2022, the Fifth Circuit approved NetChoice & CCIA’s request to stay HB 20 pending a petition of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.

KEY RESOURCES

You can find a visual timeline of the current status of NetChoice v. Paxton here.

(Last updated October 24, 2022)

NetChoice and CCIA’s motion.

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.

Steve DelBianco

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.

 

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)

 

 

Robert Winterton

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.

 

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.