The ACLU Is Backing Trump
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken a stand against the limited gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump in his Washington, D.C. election interference case. In a statement released on Wednesday, the ACLU announced that it will be filing an amicus brief arguing that the gag order on Trump is unconstitutional.
This announcement came on the same day that federal prosecutors requested U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to reinstate the currently paused gag order. According to the prosecutors, the order is necessary to prevent Trump from targeting witnesses and potentially intimidating them. They argue that Trump has a history of using inflammatory language that poses a significant risk to witnesses.
The ACLU's proposed brief, written by senior staff attorney Brett Kaufman, highlights Trump's track record of making false and harmful statements not only towards individuals but also to the country. However, the organization asserts that Trump still has a First Amendment right to speak, and the public has the right to hear what he has to say.
Trump has been using his newly launched social media platform, Truth Social, to launch a relentless attack on the prosecutors, judges, and witnesses involved in his cases. Despite a partial gag order imposed by Judge Chutkan on October 17th, which blocked Trump from making direct attacks on specific individuals involved in the case, Trump has continued to post about the special counsel and witnesses. He has since appealed the order, arguing that it violates his right to free speech, and Chutkan has issued a stay pending his appeal.
The ACLU argues that the gag order is too broad and vague, as it covers not only the special counsel and potential witnesses but also the "substance of their testimony." This, according to the organization, could be interpreted as a violation of Trump's right to free speech if he were to mention these individuals or their testimony in any context.
The organization also points out that the gag order could have repercussions on the 2024 presidential campaign, as Trump is currently leading in polls for the Republican primary. While the ACLU acknowledges that the First Amendment does not protect incitements to violence or threats, they argue that the gag order placed on Trump is not justified, as prosecutors have not shown a serious threat of his speech impacting the administration of justice.
In response to the ACLU's proposed brief, Trump attorney John Lauro stated that the organization has made strong and compelling legal arguments for preserving the former president's First Amendment rights. He also noted that many of these points were also raised by their legal team.
In a separate case, Trump was fined $10,000 for violating a gag order imposed by New York Judge Arthur Engoron in the civil trial stemming from the New York Attorney General's lawsuit against him and the Trump Organization. The judge also asked Trump to take the stand during the trial after Trump made derogatory statements about a person who he claimed was "very partisan" and sitting alongside the judge during the proceedings.