Connect with us

Federal Judge Strikes Down Unconstitutional NY ‘Hate Speech” Law

Holland McKinnie
Like Freedom Press? Get news that you don't want to miss delivered directly to your inbox

A federal judge has struck down an attempt by the New York legislature to force the public to adopt its radical and unconstitutional definition of “hate speech.” In a statement regarding the order issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. on Tuesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) explained that the ruling was issued in a case brought by Eugene Volokh, a constitutional law professor, and online video platform Rumble.

Judge Carter was appointed as a federal judge by President Obama.

The plaintiffs sued New York Attorney General Letitia James in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan after the state moved forward with its plans to control online free speech. The state legislature moved to pass the law quickly last year in response to a supermarket shooting in Buffalo.

The lawsuit argues the new law “compelled” all websites to “parrot the state’s message.” FIRE’s statement said: “New York cannot legally force blogs and other internet platforms to adopt its preferred definition of hate speech or be drafted into New York’s ‘speech police.’”

Professor Volokh said the law affected him personally because the state “singled out” certain ideological viewpoints by requiring his platform to enact a formal policy to regulate content offensive to Empire State politicians. 

He added the law was “just as unconstitutional as the government targeting ‘unpatriotic’ speech or anti-police speech or whatever else.” He expressed his gratitude for Carter’s ruling that makes it clear that “viewpoint-based” speech regulation is blatantly unconstitutional.

Carter’s ruling invalidates the state law, explaining that it forces social media companies to “disseminate the state’s message.” In addition, he wrote that the law was “particularly onerous for plaintiffs, whose websites ‘have dedicated pro-free speech purposes.’” 


The judge found that the law’s explicit purpose was to regulate the content of disfavored speech, which directly violates the First Amendment by banning or chilling protected speech of all social media users.

FIRE lawyer Jay Diaz noted the ruling is consistent with decades of federal precedents that have held that states are not permitted to regulate the content of free expression, “regardless of the ideas’ perceived morality or merit.”

Diaz noted that the Buffalo tragedy “broke the nation’s heart, and we are thankful that the killer is being brought to justice.”

However he noted that “violating expressive rights online won’t make us safer.”

Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley hailed Carter’s ruling as “a major victory for free speech.” He noted the law identifies “hateful conduct” as “the use of a social media network to vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against a group or a class of persons” based on their protected legal classification. 

Turley said the law attempted to demand that “all social media companies to have (1) a mechanism for social media users to file complaints about instances of ‘hateful conduct’ and (2) to publish the social media network’s policy for how it will respond to any such complaints.”

Turley noted the importance of the ruling, given the apparent willingness of New York voters to accept Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desire to crush free expression. He wrote, “Hochul and state legislators knew that there will be no political costs for passing laws that violate the First Amendment. Today, free speech is often portrayed as harmful and even a threat to democracy.”