That a lot of right-wing conservatives don’t understand the 1st Amendment can be demonstrated most poetically by the legislation signed yesterday by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — an early favorite to replace “the former guy” as Asshole of the Year — which would penalise tech companies for “deplatforming” politicians.
Oh boy! Where to begin?
First of all, private tech companies have every right to deplatform anyone they want. They are private companies who require users to agree to a specific set of terms and conditions, and only deplatform users for provable violations of their terms and conditions.
The former guy violated those terms and conditions on multiple platforms so often that it made it a legitimate question whether they were ever going to enforce their own rules.
Now the First Amendment says that Government “shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech . . .” The way that has been interpreted by the courts means that governments may not regulate speech based on its content.
Which is, of course, exactly what Florida is doing here.
Florida is the government. About that, there can be no doubt.
Florida is limiting the bill to deplatforming politicians. That’s the first content-based restriction.
The decision to deplatform is itself speech. There is your second content-based restriction.
And there is no compelling reason whatsoever to do this.
Also, with penalties of up to $250,000 per day, these are not “de minimis” sanctions.
If this case goes to the Supreme Court, even this remarkably conservative Supreme Court, I think they would slap it down 9-0 (or maybe 8-1, just because Clarence Thomas is an asshole).