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February 20, 2023 Top Legal News of the Week

PREVIEW magazine looks at high-profile Supreme Court cases

The American Bar Association’s PREVIEW magazine will review prominent cases before the Supreme Court in the next two weeks that involve legal immunity for tech companies and student loan forgiveness.

The ABA publication PREVIEW will address several cases coming up before the Supreme Court in the current term.

The ABA publication PREVIEW will address several cases coming up before the Supreme Court in the current term.

Gonzalez v. Google LLC involves the question of whether Google can be held liable for the content on its site. Google is being sued for recommending pro-ISIS videos through its YouTube algorithm. Google owns YouTube. Google argues that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 prohibits litigation. However, family members of Nohemi Gonzalez ─ who was killed in a 2015 ISIS attack at a Paris bistro ─ sued Google, arguing that the company can be held liable for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm under a U.S. antiterrorism law.

Steven D. Schwinn, a leading law expert and  professor of law at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, dissects the case in this month’s PREVIEW. He writes in his introduction, “Section 230 provides immunity for interactive websites from claims that treat a website as a “publisher or speaker of 'information provided by another information content provider.'”  He added, “This case tests whether YouTube acted as a “publisher or speaker” by recommending (and not merely hosting) third-party content.”

In Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, the family of Nawras Alassaf ─ who died in a 2017 terrorist attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey ─ is suing Twitter, Google and Facebook for aiding and abetting terrorist acts under the Anti-Terrorism Act.  

Writing on the significance of the case, Enrique Armijo, an Elon University School of Law professor, explains: “If Twitter were to lose at the Supreme Court, it and other platforms would likely expand their efforts to take down terrorist content, and because of the sheer amount of user content on the platform, such content moderation efforts would have to mostly take place via the use of algorithms.”

The Supreme Court also will hear two challenges to President Joe Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness effort on Feb. 28,  Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown.

According to Schwinn, the court will answer the question, “Does the secretary of education have authority to grant partial forgiveness for federal student loans, and do states and individuals have standing to challenge the secretary’s action?”

Schwinn notes, “There’s a lot at stake.”

“The court’s ruling in this case likely won’t end the government’s efforts to provide some form of loan forgiveness.” However, he adds, “Unless the court hands the administration an outright win, it will be a long while until we see any form of student debt forgiveness.” The article notes that according to the White House, the plan could provide relief to 43 million student loan borrowers.

The schedule of cases and PREVIEW analysis includes:

  • Technology
    • Feb. 21: Gonzalez v. Google LLC
    • Feb. 22: Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh
  • Criminal Law
    • Feb. 27: Dubin v. United States
  • Interstate Compact Dispute
    • Feb. 27: New York v. New Jersey
  • Student Loan Forgiveness
    • Feb. 28: Biden v. Nebraska
    • Feb. 28: Department of Education v. Brown
  • State Intervention
    • March 1: Arizona v. Mayorkas

PREVIEW is an eight-issue subscription publication that provides expert, plain-language analysis of all cases given plenary review by the Supreme Court in advance of oral argument. It publishes monthly while the Supreme Court is in session and includes a wrap-up issue reviewing the year at the end of the session.

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