The Liberty Justice Center Files Opening Brief in First Amendment Lawsuit Against Federal TikTok Ban—Legal Challenge Gathers National Support from Across the Political Spectrum

July 2, 2024

The Liberty Justice Center has filed its opening brief in its legal challenge to the federal TikTok ban proposed in the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” recently enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. The lawsuit received a groundswell of support as nine amicus briefs supporting the challenge were filed by organizations across the political spectrum.

On June 6, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit challenging the federal TikTok ban on behalf of BASED Politics, a nonprofit organization that communicates ideas supporting individual liberty and free markets to a Gen Z audience through the social media accounts of its co-founders, Hannah Cox and Brad Polumbo. The lawsuit argues that the proposed ban violates users’ right to free speech. In particular, it will prevent Cox and Polumbo from using TikTok to share their ideas with an audience they cannot reach anywhere else.

The Liberty Justice Center’s brief argues that the justifications the Act’s supporters have given for the ban cannot justify violating TikTok users’ First Amendment rights. Some supporters argued against TikTok because of the political views spread there—showing that they seek to engage in exactly the sort of censorship that the First Amendment prohibits. Other supporters claimed that the ban is necessary to protect users’ data privacy—even though the Act does not prevent foreign governments from obtaining Americans’ data.

The Liberty Justice Center’s brief argues, “The Act does not make sense as an effort to protect data security [because] there are more effective means the government could use that would do more to protect Americans’ data while infringing much less on their First Amendment rights. On the other hand, the Act makes total sense as a means of accomplishing what many of its sponsors said they wanted: preventing the communication of certain ideas to its large audience.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia combined the Liberty Justice Center’s lawsuit with two other challenges to the ban, one filed by TikTok Inc. and its parent company ByteDance, and the other filed by a group of TikTok creators. The Court will hear oral arguments on the combined legal challenge on September 16. TikTok has requested a ruling by December 6, which would allow time to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case before the ban takes effect should an appeal be necessary.

On June 27, nine amicus briefs were filed in support of the combined lawsuits, urging the Court to enjoin the ban. The briefs were filed by individuals and organizations across the political spectrum, including libertarian organizations such as the Cato Institute, prominent liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky (together with other First Amendment scholars), and a coalition of grassroots social and racial justice nonprofits.

“The proposed TikTok ban would shut down an important forum for political speech and the spread of ideas. And the law’s supporters in Congress admit that they voted for it for the most illegitimate reason possible: to suppress the spread of ideas they don’t like,” said Jacob Huebert, President of the Liberty Justice Center. “The Court must block this law before it goes into effect, or our client and the 170 million other Americans who use TikTok will be irreparably harmed.”

The Liberty Justice Center’s lawsuit against the federal TikTok ban, BASED Politics Inc. v. Garland, was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on June 6, 2024. The Liberty Justice Center’s legal filings in the case are available here.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact us.