Rutherford Institute asks Supremes to end online speech limits

 January 27, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The Rutherford Institute, which fights in America’s courts for religious, speech, and other constitutional rights, is asking the Supreme Court to end online censorship done by corporate giants who want to limit the ideas Americans can hear.

The organization has filed a brief with the high court as it considers two cases, NetChoice v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice, which both focus on corporate attempts to censor Americans’ speech.

The organization said it is asking for protection for free speech forums on social media, against attempts by corporations to “block, ban, remove, deplatform, demonetize, de-boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility to, or otherwise discriminate against viewpoints of which they might disapprove.”

”Technofascism is the modern-day equivalent of book burning, which does away with controversial ideas and the people who espouse them,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Once you allow government agencies and corporations to determine what viewpoints are ‘legitimate,’ you’re already moving fast down a slippery slope that ends with the censorship of all viewpoints altogether other than that of the government and its corporate allies.”

Its friend-of-the-court brief argues laws should treat social media platforms as free speech forums, and “secure them from viewpoint-based censorship by big tech."

The two cases arose when Florida and Texas both adopted laws that ban censorship by big tech executives on platforms such as Facebook, Google, and others.

The states adopted those requirements with Texas banning “censorship by social media platforms with more than 50 million active monthly users, such as Facebook and YouTube. The law defines ‘censor’ as meaning ‘to block, ban, remove, deplatform, demonetize, de-boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility to, or otherwise discriminate against expression.’ But the law does not prohibit censorship of unlawful expression, such as involving the sexual exploitation of children and threats of violence. Under the law, platforms must disclose how they moderate and promote content, publish an ‘acceptable use policy,’ and maintain a complaint and appeal system for users whose posts are removed,” Rutherford explained.

Florida’s law also applies to larger social media platforms, but it only prohibits censorship relating to candidates for office and larger ‘journalistic enterprises.’”

Under those requirements, the social media companies are treated as common carriers.

Social media interests sued to overturn the laws. It’s before the Supreme Court as appeals courts found Florida’s law unconstitutional, but Texas’ law constitutional.

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