Donald Trump accuses protesters of ‘violating’ his First Amendment rights

The US President’s legal team say they ‘provoked a response’ by attempting to ‘disrupt a free assembly’

Click to follow
The Independent US

Donald Trump’s lawyers have argued that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies because it infringes on the US President’s First Amendment rights. 

They made the claim in a court documents filed in relation to a case involving three demonstrators who have alleged that Trump supporters roughed them up, before throwing them out of a March 2016 rally, after the US leader called on members of the crowd to “get ’em out of here!”

The President's comments at the Louisville, Kentucky event, were protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment, protecting freedom of speech, his legal team said. The document was published by the Politico website.  

The President's lawyers claim that the plaintiffs “provoked a response” with their “efforts to disrupt a free assembly and campaign event and to infringe rights”. 

The federal district court judge hearing the case issued a ruling last month that questioned that argument, stating there were “ample facts supporting” the plaintiffs’ allegations that their injuries were a “direct” result of Mr Trump’s actions. 

That ruling cleared the case to proceed into discovery and move towards a trial. 

Mr Trump’s legal team have now asked the judge to pause proceedings so that they can appeal the previous ruling to a higher court “before subjecting the President to ‘unique’ and extraordinary burdens of litigation”. 

Mr Trump’s lawyers specifically want the the courts to reconsider whether Mr Trump’s calls for supporters to remove protesters from the crowd were protected under the First Amendment and whether it is fair to consider the calls “incitement to violence”.

One of the men accused of assaulting the protesters has also accused the US leader of inciting violence at his campaign rallies and claimed he was encouraged by Mr Trump to remove them. 

Matthew Heimbach, who leads the white nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network, claimed in cross-suit that he acted “in self defence” and in “reasonable defence of others”. 

His alleged actions were taken “pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J Trump and Donald J Trump for President lnc”, he said in a legal filing. 

Mr Trump’s lawyer's filing claims that because the plaintiffs “obviously interfered with the Trump campaign’s First Amendment right to ‘choose the contents of [its] own message'."

They said had "and the campaign had every right to expel the protesters from the event”. 

It added: “By holding to the contrary, this Court’s decision effectively transforms Mr Trump’s protected political speech into an unlawful tortous act."

They suggested that if the court does not wish to pause the proceedings, it should consider dismissing the case “in its entirety”.

Dan Canon, A lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told Politico: “We anticipated that the President would do everything in his power to prevent this case from proceeding to the discovery phase, so this motion was not a surprise.”

Comments