NEWS & ANALYSIS

Federal Judge Orders FL to Halt Bill Aimed at Blocking Big Tech Conservative Censorship


As previously reported by Human Events News, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new bill in May, giving the state power to penalize companies for banning political candidates. 

DeSantis celebrated the law as a slap in the face to “Silicon Valley elites,” who he said seek to censor different views. 

However, a federal judge slapped right back, ordering a halt to the bill. 

On Wednesday evening, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled that the law violated the First Amendment and ordered the Sunshine State not to enforce it. 

According to the Daily Caller, the law was set to go into effect on Thursday, but must be halted until a final ruling is issued. 

“Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate governmental interest,” Hinkle wrote in his order. “And even aside from the actual motivation for this legislation, it is plainly content-based and subject to strict scrutiny.” 

“It is also subject to strict scrutiny because it discriminates on its face among otherwise-identical speakers,” he continued. 

Hinkle added that parts of the bill are “expressly preempted” by federal law. 

“We are disappointed by Judge Hinkle’s ruling and disagree with his determination that the U.S. Constitution protects Big Tech’s censorship of certain individuals and content over others,” a spokesperson for DeSantis told the Daily Caller. “We plan to immediately appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”

“Governor DeSantis continues to fight for freedom of speech and against Big Tech’s discriminatory censorship,” the statement continued. 

Indeed, the new law says that social media companies may not “permanently delete or ban” a candidate running for office. Suspensions of up to 14 days are permitted, and a service can remove individual posts that violate terms of service. 

If a platform’s actions violate the law, the state’s elections commission may impose a whopping $250,000 fine per day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates. It would award targeted candidates up to $100,000. 

Additionally, individuals in the state can sue for violations of the law, such as failure by a company to be transparent about its terms of service. 

Companies are excluded from the law if they operate “a theme park or entertainment complex,” a portion that was added to protect Disney’s streaming service.