The US Supreme Court has struck down a Texas law prohibiting social media companies from controlling certain types of online expression.
The bill would have made it illegal for larger tech corporations to ban or censor Texas users based on their political beliefs.
Republicans in the state stated that it was necessary to combat what they thought was liberal bias on social media.
However, IT groups contended that the rule infringed on private firms’ right to free speech.
In a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the US Supreme Court granted a motion sponsored by tech companies to temporarily halt the law’s implementation.
Industry organisations trying to overturn the law contended that it infringed on the right to free expression as well as the ability of private companies to choose what content to post on their platforms.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who signed the bill into law in September of last year, claimed at the time that it was designed to safeguard free expression and avoid bias against conservative beliefs.
According to the law, social media platforms with more than 50 million users are not allowed to prohibit individuals based on their political beliefs.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube were all included.
On Tuesday, an odd collection of five Supreme Court justices – chosen by both Democratic and Republican presidents – banded together to prevent the law from going into effect while legal challenges proceed.
The Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer made up the majority, who gave no rationale for the emergency decision.
Their decision comes after a separate federal court verdict last week that ruled a similar statute in Florida likely violated the US Constitution’s right to free speech.
In recent months, a number of Republican-led states in the United States have accused social media corporations of prejudice against conservative viewpoints and have implemented legislation to limit them.
In the coming years, the question of how far free speech extends on social media platforms—and whether attempts by US states to legislate against them count as censorship—is expected to be tested more in US courts.