Hateful Conduct by Tom Reynolds
Last Monday Scope wrote about a 1st Amendment challenge to Hochul’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act. Any government body should tread lightly when infringing on a Constitutionally protected right, especially when that Right is specifically mentioned in the Constitution. As evidenced by this law, apparently not if you are Kathy Hochul and the NY Legislature. They will trample on 1st Amendment rights as gleefully as they will trample 2nd Amendment rights.
In another of her never-ending attempts to trash the U S Constitution, in 2022 Hochul signed the “Hateful Conduct Law”, (Social media networks; hateful conduct prohibited). It went into effect on December 3, 2022.
The “Hateful Conduct Law” is being challenged in the case, Volokh v. James. The plaintiffs operate online platforms described as social media networks. They asked for an injunction to stop the law from being enforced. The crux of their reasoning was: “…the law regulates the content of their speech by compelling them to speak on an issue on which they would otherwise remain silent.”
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Andrew Carter Jr., granted an injunction. He described the essence of Hochul’s law as: “The Hateful Conduct Law requires a social media network to endorse the state's message about ‘hateful conduct’".
No freedom of choice as to how or what one speaks in Hochul’s world.
Judge Carter continued: “A social media network that devises its own definition of ‘hateful conduct’ would risk being in violation of the law and thus subject to its enforcement provision…each social media network's definition of ‘hateful conduct’ must be at least as inclusive as the definition set forth in the law itself.
In granting the injunction, the judge wrote about the unconstitutionality of the state compelling someone to speak in a particular way, even if the person does not want to speak: “The law also requires that a social media network must make a ‘policy’ available on its website which details how the network will respond to a complaint of hateful content. In other words, the law requires that social media networks devise and implement a written policy—i.e., speech.”
Like the ‘Concealed Carry Improvement Act’, the ‘Hateful Conduct Law’ leaves much undefined, giving bureaucrats the latitude to fill in essential definitions in ways that are to theirs and Hochul’s liking – the U S Constitution be damned. Judge Carter wrote: “The potential chilling effect to social media users is exacerbated by the indefiniteness of some of the Hateful Conduct Law’s key terms…the law does not put social media users on notice of what kinds of speech or content is now the target of government regulation.”
As with the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, in their zeal to outlaw anything they disagree with, Hochul and her minions can’t seem to write a law that is both clear and constitutional. Instead of breathlessly legislating, they should consider stepping back, taking a deep breath and thinking before legislating.
And as with the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, the state has again sought to violate the constitutional rights of citizens.
Hochul and the Left should read the decision in Matal v. Tam (2017). “…the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.'”
Or to put it even more eloquently, as Voltaire may have said, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Words that will never be spoken by Kathy Hochul or her friends on the Left.
Will any of that matter to voters? Hochul and state legislators believe that there will be no political costs for passing laws that violate the First or Second Amendments. Will social media users show up at the polls to protest Hochul’s and the Left’s ham-handed approach? Will gun owners show up at the polls to protest Hochul’s and the Left’s attempt to eliminate civilian gun ownership?
Until gun owners start voting in big numbers, expect more reprehensible laws like these. This is even more frustrating since gun owners have the numbers to put a stop to this nonsense.
Free speech is a threat to Hochul’s definition of a democracy. Civilian gun ownership is as much or more of a threat to Hochul and the downstate Democrats in the legislature.
Expect NY Attorney General Letitia James to again dip deeply into the taxpayer’s pockets and appeal this decision.