The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) just upheld a Texas law meant to protect free speech on Big Tech platforms, ruling that Big Tech social media giants do not have a “free speech” right to censor speech based on the viewpoint of the user.
Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say. Because the district court held otherwise, we reverse its injunction and remand for further proceedings NetChoice v. Paxton, 5th Circuit Ct. of Appeals
From Amazon censoring conservative books that go against leftist ideologies, to Google preventing pro-life organizations like LiveAction from advertising abortion pill reversal, to the complete and coordinated deplatforming of a sitting president, Donald Trump by Twitter and Facebook, and the takedown of Gab and then Parler by Amazon, Google, and Apple, the list is too long to publish here. Suffice it to say that Big Tech’s censorship crusade against conservatives is undeniable.
What is even worse, as documents from Louisiana and Missouri’s attorney general’s lawsuit against Twitter and Facebook showed, is that Big Tech censorship was often in direct coordination and at the behest of the Biden White House and other leftist government officials at the CDC, HHS, DOJ and FBI.
Although Big Tech is likely to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, after all, it has unlimited legal resources, the victory means that individuals in Texas who have been deplatformed or censored because of their viewpoint may now begin to sue the Big Tech giants.
In essence, Big Tech argued that censorship should be considered free speech, an argument the court soundly rejected.
Who are the parties to this case: NetChoice LLC. v. Paxton
NetChoice LLC is a 501(c)(6), which is defined as a business trade association. It is funded by membership dues paid by the members and represents internet and technology businesses. In other words, Big Tech pays the salaries of NetChoice LLC’s staff.
The most interesting part is that NetChoice describes itself as conservative, and is really a creation of big business libertarians.
Netchoice’s annual IRS filings show that in 2019, the latest publicly available year, they received 2 million dollars in membership dues. Their CEO drew in a salary of around $500,000 and their VP came in at over $300,000. Their members are a who’s who of Big Tech companies, as can be seen on their website.
Netchoice’s staff is an interesting collection of the type of free market libertarian centrists who came to dominate the early age of the internet and globalization, but which were rejected by the new blue collar conservatives represented by Donald Trump.
For example, the Director of Public Affairs, Robert Winterton states in his bio that “he is deeply interested in working to curb populist demands that undermine technology’s positive impact on human wellbeing and prosperity.”
Many of the staff members of NetChoice LLC are either alumn, or currently hold positions at the Mercatus Center, a Koch brothers funded libertarian policy institute housed at the George Mason University in Northern Virginia.
Christopher Cox, a former congressman and former director of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and more importantly the co-author of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a member of NetChoice’s board.
Under the guise of protecting online safety and free speech, NetChoice made the difficult to believe and even more difficult to understand argument that Big Tech’s own freedom of speech gives them the right to censor their users based on their viewpoint.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed this point with brutal bluntness:
We reject the Platforms’ efforts to reframe their censorship as speech. It is undisputed that the Platforms want to eliminate speech—not promote or protect it. And no amount of doctrinal gymnastics can turn the First Amendment’s protections for free speech into protections for free censoring.NetChoice v. Paxton, pg. 20, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Correctly, the 5th Circuit argued that censorship is not speech, but an act that limits free speech.
Meanwhile, the Texas Attorney General continued to rack up another victory adding Big Tech to the list of establishment cadavers: Big Government, Big Tech, and Big Abortion.