by Ethan Tong • 5 min read
On the first Monday in October, the U.S. Supreme Court began its new term. Last year, its term marked monumental progress for religious freedom, with our Faithful Carrier case, Groff v. DeJoy, and 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis providing renewed protections for religious Americans.
So far this year, the Court has not agreed to hear any religious freedom cases. But it’s still early. Remember, the Court has heard at least one case impacting religious freedom over the past five years.
There is one important free speech case the Supreme Court will hear this fall with big implications for religious Americans. It deals with the ability of social media giants to censor users—who are often expressing religious views. The Court will determine whether state laws in Florida and Texas regulating social media platforms violate the Constitution.
Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok often claim they are public, open platforms for social media users of all opinions. But it appears some viewpoints are more equal than others on these so-called “open” platforms. Religious voices, routinely have posts removed and accounts deactivated simply because they express an opinion that the companies disagree with. That’s hardly an “open” space.
When the Florida case (NetChoice LLC v Florida) was being heard at a federal appeals court, First Liberty filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of The Babylon Bee and Not the Bee, a Christian satire site and its non-satirical sibling. They have faced increasing censorship and “shadow banning” on social media.
The case involved a state law that requires Big Tech companies to be transparent about user standards and to implement them equally. The law did not force tech companies to allow everything. It simply required them to publish their user standards and apply them fairly. But Big Tech refused. Now, that case is at the Supreme Court.
This is a big case to keep on your radar. It will impact religious expression online. We’re hoping the Court holds these companies to their own standards. Religious voices should not be suppressed on platforms that claim to be “inclusive.”
Here are five other notable cases this term:
Second Amendment: Restrictions for Protective Order Subjects
In many states, people who are subject to domestic violence civil restraining orders also lose their right to a firearm. That happens even though they have not formally been found guilty. The Court is going to decide whether these laws square with the Second Amendment.
Gerrymandering: South Carolina Congressional Maps
The Court will consider a congressional redistricting plan drawn by South Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2020 census. Critics say it was designed with discriminatory purpose and amounts to an illegal racial gerrymander.
Executive Branch Oversight: Fishermen Forced to Pay Salaries
Fishermen in the Atlantic have been forced to pay the salaries of government-employed monitors for nearly 50 years. The Court is considering whether an arm of the Executive Branch has the power to require these fishermen to pay for government employees.
Regulatory Power of Federal Agencies: The Securities and Exchange Commission
Justices will have the opportunity to decide whether enforcement proceedings need to come through federal courts, administrative courts or can be conducted through the SEC.
Agencies Outside of Congressional Pay: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The CFPB monitors the practices of lenders, debt collectors, and credit rating agencies to ensure the structural integrity of the fiscal system. However, they’re receiving pay from outside Congress—from the earnings of the Federal Reserve System. The Court will decide whether this violates the Appropriations Clause. A lower court ruling says it grants Congress “exclusive power over the federal purse.”
Every term is an important one as the Supreme Court decides issues that will affect millions of Americans. And while there is no explicit religious freedom case at the Court this term, there still is a chance the Court will agree to hear one—including one of our own. First Liberty will let you know if that happens.