This New Ruling Against Google Could Give Republicans Exactly What They Need

( A judge in Ohio has determined that state Attorney General Dave Yost’s case, which calls Google a common carrier subject to specific restrictions and lawsuits, may move forward, marking a huge victory for Republicans aiming to hold digital corporations accountable for bias and censorship.

Common carriers are bound by rigorous laws in the United States regarding who they may and cannot refuse service. Businesses that are classified as public accommodations are required to provide non-discriminatory service to all paying customers. Utilities and telecommunications firms are examples of common carriers in the United States.

Judge James P. Schuck dismantled a common argument made by tech corporations and their defenders: compelling them to carry particular forms of communication infringes on their First Amendment rights.

In his judgment, Schuck said that courts have recognized that intruding on a private actor’s speech by compelling that actor to host another person’s speech does not necessarily violate the First Amendment. There have been various instances where censorship of private firms engaging in mass communications has been forbidden.

Yost’s complaint claims that Google should not emphasize its own products and services in search results. The tech giant’s anti-competitive activity harms Ohio customers by denying them the information they need to make educated decisions.

The decision comes as Republican states consider regulating Big Tech censorship.
In Texas, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a new law pushed by state Republicans that defines social media companies to be common carriers and provides users the right to sue if they are censored.

“The Ohio State court published a well-reasoned and erudite ruling,” said Prof. Adam Candeub. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America and a tenured law professor at Michigan State University.

He said that the court acknowledged that the First Amendment does not exclude reasonable anti-discrimination regulations for businesses that purport to be speech transmitters.

Prof. Candeub led the Trump administration’s efforts to combat digital censorship and submitted an amicus brief in this case.