Updated Sep 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Unsealed opinion: Trump TikTok ban likely overstepped legal authority

Illustration of the TikTok logo on a dais under a spotlight with confetti falling around it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A federal court judge on Sunday granted TikTok's request for a temporary restraining order against a ban by the Trump administration.

Driving the news: Judge Carl Nichols on Monday unsealed his opinion, in which he concluded that the ban seeks to regulate the exchange of "informational materials" — something that's expressly exempted from the law laying out the emergency powers Trump invoked.

  • Nichols, a Trump appointee, also said it was "not plausible that the films, photos, art, or even personal information U.S. users share on TikTok fall within the plain meaning of the Espionage Act," another law Trump's order cited in setting out a national security rationale for a ban.

Why it matters: Americans will be able to continue downloading one of the country's most popular social media and entertainment apps — at least for now.

What TikTok is saying: "We're pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban. We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.

  • "At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement."

What the White House is saying, via a statement from the U.S. Commerce Department: “The E.O. is fully consistent with the law and promotes legitimate national security interests. 

  • "The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges."

Here's the full text, via DocumentCloud.

Go deeper: White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include material from the unsealed opinion.

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