By\u00a0Andrew Zhang\r\nA federal appeals court on Wednesday reinstated a Republican-backed Texas law that prohibits large social media companies from banning users over their political viewpoints.\r\nThe decision hands a win to Republicans who have long criticized social media platforms such as Twitter for what they call anti-conservative bias \u2014 disapproval that was amplified when President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter for violating the platform\u2019s rules on inciting violence during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.\r\nThe order did not evaluate the law on its constitutionality but instead allows the law to go back into effect while the case proceeds in district court, according to a\u00a0statement from one of the plaintiff groups.\r\nThe ruling came from a three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals \u2014 which is often considered the most conservative appeals court in the country \u2014 and was not accompanied by a written opinion explaining the decision at the time of publication.\r\nTwo large industry trade groups that represent companies such as Google and Twitter\u00a0sued\u00a0to block the law last fall.\r\nIn December, a federal district court judge\u00a0ruled in favor\u00a0of the groups and blocked the law while the lawsuit continues, reasoning that the First Amendment protects a company\u2019s right to moderate content and called parts of the law \u201cprohibitively vague.\u201d As a result, Texas Attorney General\u00a0Ken Paxton\u00a0appealed the district judge\u2019s decision to the circuit court.\r\nPassed during a special session last year, House Bill 20 also requires social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users to publicly disclose information about content removal and account suspensions.\r\n\u201cHB 20 is an assault on the First Amendment, and it's constitutionally rotten from top to bottom,\u201d Chris Marchese, counsel for the NetChoice industry trade group,\u00a0tweeted after the ruling. \u201cSo of course, we're going to appeal today's unprecedented, unexplained, and unfortunate order by a split 2-1 panel.\u201d\r\nThe decision comes as businessman Elon Musk is poised to buy Twitter and possibly remake the company\u2019s moderation policies \u2014 a move that conservatives have cheered. Musk recently\u00a0said\u00a0he would reinstate Trump\u2019s account if the acquisition is completed.\r\n\u201cSadly, we have a handful of people in America today who want to control the town square, who want to control social media and want to enforce silence,\u201d state Sen.\u00a0Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola,\u00a0said\u00a0in support of the bill last year. \u201cIf you have a viewpoint different from theirs, they want to shut you up. That\u2019s not the American way, and that is not the Texas way.\u201d\r\nThe law does not provide any specific civil penalties for breaking the law, besides allowing users to sue to recuperate their court costs from the company found in violation. The law also empowers the attorney general to pursue violations.\r\nThe Texas attorney general\u2019s office said in a tweet late Wednesday that the appeals court made the right decision and said it would continue defending the Texas law.\r\nThis story was originally published by the Texas Tribune.