The Supreme Court unveiled its calendar schedule for February 2023 that includes a case on President Biden’s proposed student loan handout, as well as cases on Twitter and Google, representing some of the first opportunities for the high court to shape the power of Big Tech.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, the Supreme Court will consider Gonzalez v. Google LLC. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh. Both cases consider whether social media platforms can be held accountable for aiding and abetting terrorism.
An overly expansive interpretation of aiding-and-abetting liability, Columbia University legal experts warn, could cause social media platforms to take down speech protected under the First Amendment for fear of legal liability.
In the first case, the estate of Nohemi Gonzalez, a victim of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, is aiming to hold Google liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act for recommending videos through its YouTube algorithms that were shared by the terrorist group ISIS.
In challenging a U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals’ dismissal of three actions seeking damages, the plaintiffs argue social media platforms allowed ISIS to post videos and other content to communicate its message, radicalize new recruits and further its mission, according to the legal information website Justia. The plaintiffs also claim that Google placed paid advertisements in proximity to ISIS-created content and shared the resulting ad revenue with ISIS.
According to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the Taamneh lawsuit was filed by family members of Nawras Alassaf, a victim of the 2017 ISIS attack at a Turkish nightclub.
Because they were not able to hold ISIS accountable directly, Alassaf’s relatives took legal action against Twitter, alleging that because ISIS used the platform to promote its beliefs, and because Twitter knew that ISIS had done so and did not intervene, Twitter had aided and abetted an act of international terrorism.
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, the Supreme Court will hear Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown – both cases that pertain to Biden’s estimated $400 billion student debt relief plan first announced in August.
The plan aims to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans for borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year.
The first case brought by six Republican-led states – Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina – challenges Biden’s invocation of a national emergency to forgive a portion of federal student loan debt as an ‘unlawful’ abuse of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003.
The decades-old act came in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but Biden is linking it to the COVID-19 pandemic. The states contend Biden’s plan overrides the authority of the secretary of education.
The second case involves two borrowers who contend they were unfairly excluded from the program.
Also to be heard are Dubin v. United States and New York v. New Jersey, both on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, and Abitron Austrai GMBH v. Hetronic Int. L, Inc., on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, according to the new calendar.