Former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed an appeal to a D.C. judge’s gag order Thursday evening.
“The Gag Order violates the First Amendment rights of President Trump and over 100 million Americans who listen to him,” wrote Trump attorney John Lauro in the filing.
The appeal comes after Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s request to stay the gag order she implemented. The gag order prevents Trump from criticizing Special Counsel Jack Smith, his staff, any court staff, or any reasonably foreseeable witness in the case. Chutkan argued that Trump’s speech could lead to threats to participants in the trial, jeopardizing the integrity of the proceedings. Lauro took issue with this logic.
“The prosecution’s claim that his core political speech suddenly poses a threat to the administration of justice is baseless,” Lauro wrote. “The prosecutors and potential witnesses addressed by President Trump’s speech are high-level government officials and public figures, many of whom routinely attack President Trump in their own public statements, media interviews, and books.”
Lauro argues that the gag order unconstitutionally hampers Trump’s “core political and campaign speech.”
“Likewise, the First Amendment’s ‘constitutional guarantee has its fullest and most urgent application precisely to the conduct of campaigns for political office,’” Lauro wrote.
Trump’s legal team also argues that the gag order infringes upon the First Amendment rights of “tens of millions of Americans” who will no longer hear Trump’s speech. In addition, Lauro claims that since Trump’s speech do not constitute incitement to lawless action, it should be viewed as unconstitutional.
“The court did not hold, and the prosecution does not contend, that any of President Trump’s public statements constitute threats, ‘fighting words,’ or incitement to imminent lawless action,” Lauro said. “Thus, the Gag Order restricts President Trump’s speech based solely upon the anticipated reaction of unidentified, independent third parties. This is a classic heckler’s veto, which the First Amendment categorically forbids. Under the First Amendment, public speakers ‘are not chargeable with the danger’ that their audiences ‘might react with disorder or violence.’”