A federal appeals court Friday ruled in favor of a Texas law targeting major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter in a victory for Republicans who accuse the platforms of censoring conservative speech.
But the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is unlikely to be the last word in a legal battle that has stakes beyond Texas, and could impact how some of the world’s biggest tech companies regulate content by their users.
The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last year, has been challenged by tech trade groups that warn that it would prevent platforms from removing extremism and hate speech. A similar law was also passed in Florida and ruled unconstitutional by a separate appeal court.
The final say is likely to come from the U.S. Supreme Court, which earlier this year blocked the Texas law while the lawsuit played out.
“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Andrew Oldham wrote.