In a significant victory for the First Amendment, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction against a misguided New York law targeting online speech. The lawsuit challenging the law was brought by constitutional law professor and Protect The 1st Senior Legal Advisor Eugene Volokh, and online platforms Rumble and Locals, which filed an amicus brief arguing that the law was unconstitutional. The group was represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). The court's decision is a clear recognition of the First Amendment and a win for the plaintiffs, who argued the law's vague definition of "hateful" speech would have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights.
The plaintiffs argued that the law, which required the removal of “hateful” posts, violated the First Amendment by imposing a content-based restriction on speech without a compelling government interest. The court noted that the law's definition of "hateful" speech was too broad and could encompass a wide range of protected speech, including political speech and satire.
The court also found that the law's requirement that online platforms remove "hateful" speech within 24 hours of receiving a complaint would be difficult to comply with and could lead to the removal of lawful speech. The court concluded that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their First Amendment claim and that the public interest favored an injunction.
"New York's vague and overbroad law sought to stifle robust debate on the internet," said FIRE attorney Daniel Ortner in a press release. "Today's decision is a victory for the First Amendment that should be celebrated by everyone who hopes to see the internet continue as a place where even difficult and contentious issues can be debated and discussed freely."