ACLU Says Gag Order Against Donald Trump is Unconstitutional

Midjourney

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched a challenge on Wednesday against a gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump, asserting that it breaches the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights.

While the ACLU has often criticized Trump and praised his criminal indictment in the federal election interference case, they contend that the restrictions on his speech are inconsistent with First Amendment principles.

“Despite our disagreements with Trump’s policies, everyone should receive equal First Amendment protections against overly broad and vague gag orders,” emphasized Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director.

This development follows U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision in mid-October to issue a partial gag order.

The order was in response to concerns raised by special counsel Jack Smith’s team that Trump’s fervent remarks could compromise the fairness of the trial. The case accuses Trump of unlawfully attempting to overturn his 2020 electoral defeat to President Joe Biden, a charge to which Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Chutkan’s order restricts Trump and other involved parties from publicly discussing matters related to Smith, the defense team, court members, and their staff. Furthermore, they are forbidden from addressing any potential witness or their testimonies.

In a detailed 18-page court filing, the ACLU pinpointed perceived flaws in Chutkan’s order, labeling it as “vague,” “broad,” and lacking adequate justification. They stressed that although Trump made numerous controversial remarks, he still possesses a First Amendment right to express himself, and the public retains the right to hear him.

Pointing out potential ambiguities in the order, the ACLU’s brief claimed that Trump and others couldn’t discern what is permissible to say, urging Judge Chutkan to reconsider her decision.

In the wake of this challenge, Trump has appealed against the gag order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Chutkan has momentarily suspended her order while evaluating Trump’s appeal request.

Meanwhile, Trump faces another gag order related to his civil fraud trial in New York. After violating that order with a post on Truth Social, Judge Arthur Engoron of the Manhattan Supreme Court fined him $5,000, warning of graver penalties, including potential imprisonment, for further breaches.

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