The Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked a sweeping Texas law on Tuesday that restricts the ability of FB, Twitter & YouTube to moderate content.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices granted an emergency request from the tech industry to block a lower court order that would have allowed the law to take hold, pending legal challenges.
In an unusual alignment the five justices in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Sonia Sotomayor.
The Supreme Court order is a loss for Texas. The state argued that its law, HB 20, which prohibits large social media firms from blocking, banning or demoting posts or accounts, does not violate the First Amendment.
The majority did not explain its thinking and Kagan did not lay out her own reasoning for her vote to allow the law to remain in place.
Opponents of HB 20, including the tech industry, argued that the legislation infringes on the constitutional rights of tech platforms to make editorial decisions and to be free from government-compelled speech.
The wider case is viewed as a bellwether for the social media industry and could determine whether tech platforms have to scale back their content moderation in more than just Texas.
The legal battle attracted "friend of the court" briefs from interested parties including groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP who had urged the Court to block the law,
Arguing it will "transform social media platforms into online repositories of vile, graphic, harmful, hateful, and fraudulent content, of no utility to the individuals who currently engage in those communities."