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Montana: District Court issues preliminary injunction against law banning TikTok from coming into force

On November 30, 2023, the District Court of Montana, Missoula Division, granted a preliminary injunction, in its decision on the same date, in Lead Case No. CV 23–56–M–DWM, Samantha Alario, and Tik Tok Inc., v. Austin Knudsen, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Montana, against the Senate Bill No. 419 (SB 419), from coming into effect on January 1, 2024.

In particular, SB 419 is an Act Banning TikTok in Montana; Prohibiting a Mobile Application Store From Offering the TikTok Application to Montana Users; Providing for Penalties; Providing for Enforcement Authority; Providing Definitions; Providing for Contingent Voidness; and Providing a Delayed Effective Date. SB 419 was signed into law, on May 17, 2023, by the Governor of Montana.

What is the background of the decision?

This case involved a challenge to SB 419 and the plaintiffs sought a preliminary ruling enjoining the effective date of SB 419.

What are the findings of the District Court?

In particular, the District Court stated that the plaintiffs' arguments had merits. More specifically, the District Court stated, among other things, that SB 419 bans TikTok outright and, in doing so, limits the Constitutionally protected First Amendment speech. Accordingly, the District Court added, SB 419 must pass at least the intermediate scrutiny review. Additionally, the District Court stated that the plaintiffs had a strong argument that SB 419 violates Article 1 §8(3) of the Constitution of the United States (the Commerce Clause), which grants Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States.

What are the outcomes of the decision? 

In light of the above, the District Court preliminarily enjoined SB 419 from coming into force on January 1, 2024, pending the final disposition of the issues on the merits.

You can read the decision here.