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Alario v. Knudsen (Amicus)

Location: Montana
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: May 31, 2024

What's at Stake

In April 2023, Montana’s state legislature passed SB 419, an Act Banning TikTok in Montana. This law imposes a sweeping ban on free expression—one that would prevent everyday Montanans from using TikTok to communicate with immense audiences, access information from around the world, and express themselves. This ban flouts the First Amendment and tramples Montanans’ constitutional right to freedom of speech—that’s why the ACLU, ACLU of Montana, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and a coalition of civil society organizations filed amicus briefs in the district court and the Ninth Circuit urging the courts to block the law from going into effect. Through these briefs, we continue to fight to ensure that no legislature can ban Americans from using an immensely popular platform for online speech based on vague invocations of “national security” or anti-China rhetoric.

In July 2024, TikTok and a group of Montana-based TikTok creators filed suit to block SB 419 from going into effect. The plaintiffs argued that the ban would prevent Montanans, including those in Indigenous communities, from exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. The ACLU, the ACLU of Montana, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief addressing the First Amendment standards that apply to the state’s effort to impose a prior restraint and total ban on Montanans’ use of this social media platform. In November 2023, the district court ruled in favor of TikTok and the creators, granting a preliminary injunction against the law.

After Montana appealed the district court’s ruling in January 2024, the ACLU, the ACLU of Montana, EFF, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Reason Foundation, and Center for Democracy & Technology filed an amicus brief in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the appeals court to affirm the district court’s ruling and apply the most exacting scrutiny under the First Amendment.

SB 419 is censorship—it would unjustly cut Montanans off from a platform where they speak out and exchange ideas every day, and it would set an alarming precedent for excessive government control over how Montanans use the internet. Montana residents have a right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange their thoughts, ideas, and opinions with millions of people around the state, country, and world.

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