A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a Florida law that would penalize social media companies for blocking a politician’s posts, a blow to conservatives’ efforts to respond to Facebook and other websites’ suspension of former president Donald Trump.
The law was due to go into effect Thursday, but in issuing a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida suggested that the law would be found unconstitutional.
“The plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim that these statutes violate the First Amendment,” Hinkle wrote. “There is nothing that could be severed and survive.”
The law laid out fines for tech companies that suspended political candidates in the run-up to an election.
Florida legislators approved the law after Facebook, Twitter and YouTube suspended Trump’s accounts for violating their policies following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a potential 2024 presidential candidate and key Trump ally, touted the law as a stand against alleged censorship of conservatives when he signed it in May….
The judge wrote a blistering criticism of the Florida law, saying that it “compels providers to host speech that violates their standards.”
“Like prior First Amendment restrictions, this is an instance of burning the house to roast a pig,” he wrote.
He also said that remarks from the governor and other lawmakers made clear that the law was “viewpoint-based,” adding that there was “substantial factual support” showing the law was motivated by hostility toward the perceived liberal bias of large tech firms.
Hinkle also referred to the law as “riddled with imprecision and ambiguity” and said it “does not survive strict scrutiny.”
You can read the opinion here.