Never before in U.S. history have Americans been less free to see and say what they want. The blame goes mostly to the social media giants like Facebook, YouTube and Google that censor political views they don’t like.
But the tech giants’ day of reckoning is near. Justice Clarence Thomas is taking them on.
Phone companies like AT&T or Sprint can’t shut down your account because of your political views. American Airlines can’t refuse to sell you a ticket because you’ve questioned climate change or COVID lockdowns. The law forbids it.
That same ban against political discrimination should apply to social media platforms. Thomas has argued against Big Tech censorship since at least 2021, saying these companies should have to serve all customers, just like phone companies, utilities and public accommodations.
On Sept. 29, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will rule on state laws enacted by Florida and Texas that prohibit tech giants from canceling users based on their political views. Expect Thomas to lead a majority of the justices to conclude that internet censorship is inconsistent with democracy and must be stopped.
A high court ruling against censorship will deal a powerful blow against Big Tech tyranny. Not a day too soon. Hallelujah.
Right now, social media platforms freely censor, taking down posts and deplatforming users whose views they don’t like — even a former president of the United States — and burying information so it’s impossible to find with a Google search.
Big Tech censorship impacts far more people than when colleges silence dissent or even when workplaces and schools indoctrinate.
Texas’s anti-censorship law is designed to protect the public against this loss of freedom. The law still allows removal of items that are pornographic, threaten violence or promote the sexual exploitation of children — what’s truly harmful.
To defend Texas’ law, the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, specifically cited Thomas’ argument.
The law was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, deciding that corporations do not have a “right to muzzle speech.”
But a similar Florida law was struck down by the 11th Circuit, arguing that Big Tech platforms have a First Amendment right to pick and choose views like a newspaper does.
Now the Supreme Court is poised to resolve those conflicting outcomes. The court will decide who is protected by the First Amendment — the tech companies that claim they’re like newspapers, or the millions of social media users.
The smart money is on Thomas persuading a majority of the justices that democracy requires an uncensored internet.
In a 2021 concurring opinion, Thomas suggested a role for Congress to provide a legislative fix, including changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But Congress is unlikely to act, as long as Democrats control either house.
Most Democrats in Congress are rooting for more censorship. They’ve become the anti-free speech party. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told tech executives during a 2020 Senate hearing that he wants them to censor “climate denialism.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged them to do more “content modification” and eliminate “disinformation” in future elections.
When Blumenthal says “content modification,” it’s a euphemism for silencing the opposition — in short, rigging elections.
“Disinformation.” Don’t be fooled by that word. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained that the way to test the truth of any statement is to see if it survives in the marketplace of ideas. Truth will prevail.
Lousy ideas, falsehoods and loser politicians like President Joe Biden need censorship to survive.
At the Supreme Court, Biden’s Department of Justice is siding with Big Tech against the public’s right to free expression.
That’s no surprise. Biden likely owes his 2020 election to Big Tech’s rush to squash the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop reporting.
Since taking office, Joe Biden has erected a vast censorship operation, with the White House, FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other government agencies colluding with Big Tech to limit what you can see and say. Bravo that Elon Musk’s company X, formerly Twitter, refuses.
The next move belongs to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments and rule early in 2024.
Count on Thomas’ anti-censorship views to prevail. Americans will be freer as a result.
Thank you, Justice Thomas.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website.
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