Montana In The Spotlight: Judge Confronts Lawyers In TikTok Ban
Update on District Judge Hearing Montana's TikTok Ban
On Thursday, October 12, 2023, I told you how a District Judge in Missoula was hearing the case on the TikTok ban in Montana. Montana lawmakers passed SB419 in April and Governor Gianforte signed it in May. In a matter of hours, legal challenges ensued.
READ ON: MT District Judge Hears TikTok Case
CNN Business did a report on the initial hearing.
District Judge Donald Molloy heard the case. He challenged arguments given by Montana Solicitor General Christian Corrigan. Corrigan tried to argue that the TikTok ban is about protecting Montanans from data theft from TikTok. He tried citing reports about TikTok through it's parent company ByteDance saying there was huge concern over China Surveilling American users of the app.
TikTok attorneys argued that public reports do not justify a total ban on the app, and that the company has signed sworn affidavits about NOT sharing US information with China.
The Judge Wasn't Having Any Of It
Judge Molloy hit both sides over and over about standard of evidence and what should have been required PRIOR to the ban for lawmakers to see and make sound decisions based on actual fact.
Corrigan boldly fired back:
The state doesn’t need to form a blue-ribbon commission to show that fire is dangerous or water is wet
TikTok's Attorney, Berengaut said:
The real purpose of the statute is to declare a foreign policy for the state of Montana
Judge Molloy said of Attorney General Austin Knudsen:
It seems like everything the attorney general argued at hearings and in public statements are directed to, ‘We are going to teach China a lesson,’ not ‘We are going to protect people'
The attorney for the TikTok creators, Abika Kumar, said that SB 419
tramples on the First Amendment rights of consumers and of TikTok itself.
It’s not even close as to whether they regulated too much, and that’s underscored by the alternatives that they had that they appear not to have even considered.
Later while questioning Corrigan, Judge Molloy said:
It seems to me there are a number of things that a legislature might have or could have done, for instance, instead of banning TikTok, regulate what data they could obtain; create some sort of criminal statute that if they obtained [data] illegally or against the will of the users, they could get prosecuted criminally … [or] create a civil remedy” for individuals.
Knudsen could have even gone on television to issue public service announcements warning Montanans not to use TikTok
Corrigan compared banning the app to banning a specific model of cell phone from being sold in Montana because it causes cancer or explodes on users. The judge said it was a bad analogy and it confused him. He also added:
That’s sort of a paternalistic argument that, you know, [consumers] don’t know what they’re doing.
Judge Molloy promised to have a decision in the near future.
We will update you on this case as we get the information.
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