Jonathan Ambarian

HELENA — A federal judge in Missoula has put on a Montana law banning the app TikTok in the state on hold, while a lawsuit challenging the ban goes forward.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction, preventing Senate Bill 419 from going into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1. In his order, Molloy said plaintiffs – including TikTok and a group of Montana-based content creators who use the app – had shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their challenge to the law.

“While there may be a public interest in protecting Montana consumers, the State has not shown how this TikTok bill does that,” he wrote. “Instead, SB 419 oversteps state power and infringes on the Constitutional rights of users and businesses.”

Molloy said the law wasn’t narrowly tailored enough to meet the required level of scrutiny – saying “the Legislature used an axe to solve its professed concerns when it should have used a constitutional scalpel.”

The ruling comes more than a month after Molloy held a hearing on the case ( in Missoula.