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ACLU says gag order on Trump violates his First Amendment rights

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Karah Rucker

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Emma Stoltzfus

Video Editor

Zachary Hill

Video Editor

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Former President Donald Trump has an unlikely ally in his appeal to remove a gag order. The American Civil Liberties Union said a gag order on Trump is unconstitutional.

“Trump retains a First Amendment right to speak, and the rest of us retain a right to hear what he has to say,” the ACLU brief said.

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Trump was issued a gag order in his federal 2020 election case in Washington and his civil fraud trial in New York. The civil fraud trial in New York has already gotten the former president in trouble.

In that civil fraud trial, Judge Arthur Engoron decided Trump violated the order twice and fined him $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second.

The ACLU is arguing the gag order in his federal case is overbearing to the point they believe it’s violating Trump’s right to free speech.

The concept of a gag order is controversial. Those against gag orders often argue it violates the First Amendment while proponents say it serves as protection of the Sixth Amendment — the right to a fair trial. Whether a gag order is issued or not comes down to the discretion of a judge.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing his federal trial, imposed a gag order on Trump to prevent him from talking or posting online about special counsel Jack Smith, prosecutors and the court. Chutkan argued it could sway future jury members in the case.

“This case is already one of the most talked-about trials of all time,” the ACLU stated. “There may never have been a better-known criminal case in American history, or a better-known defendant. With that in mind, to the extent that the court’s order seeks to prevent future statements from affecting the impartiality of the potential jury pool, the order seems unlikely to make much of a difference.”

The ACLU is a nonprofit human rights organization. According to AllSides, an independent organization that rates media bias, the ACLU leans left in its policy agendas and is a known critic of former President Trump.

“No modern-day president did more damage to civil liberties and civil rights than President Trump,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said. “But if we allow his free speech rights to be abridged, we know that other unpopular voices — even ones we agree with — will also be silenced.”

The gag order for Trump’s federal case has been temporarily lifted while the court decides what to do next.

In New York, the gag order is active and Judge Arthur Engoron has threatened potential imprisonment if Trump continues to violate his gag order. Trump has been highly critical of the courts, the justice system and indictments against him. The gag order places limits on his criticism of the courts that has so far lit a fire under Trump’s base.

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FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP HAS AN UNLIKELY ALLY IN HIS APPEAL TO REMOVE A GAG ORDER.

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION SAYS A GAG ORDER ON TRUMP IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

THE ACLU SAYS TRUMP RETAINS A FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO SPEAK –

AND THE REST OF US RETAIN A RIGHT TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY.

TRUMP HAS BEEN ISSUED A GAG ORDER IN HIS FEDERAL 2020 ELECTION CASE IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND HIS CIVIL FRAUD TRIAL IN NEW YORK.

THE ONE IN NEW YORK HAS ALREADY GOTTEN THE FORMER PRESIDENT IN TROUBLE.

THE JUDGE DECIDING HE VIOLATED THE ORDER TWICE AND FINED HIM BOTH TIMES.

THE ACLU IS ARGUING THE GAG ORDER IN HIS **FEDERAL CASE IS OVERBEARING.

TO THE POINT THEY BELIEVE IT’S VIOLATING TRUMP’S RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH.

THE CONCEPT OF A GAG ORDER IS CONTROVERSIAL.

THOSE AGAINST GAG ORDERS OFTEN ARGUE IT VIOLATES THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

WHILE PROPONENTS SAY IT SERVES AS PROTECTION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT –

THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.

WHETHER A GAG ORDER IS ISSUED OR NOT –

COMES DOWN TO THE DISCRETION OF A JUDGE.

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE TANYA CHUTKAN IMPOSED A GAG ORDER ON TRUMP TO PREVENT HIM FROM TALKING OR POSTING ONLINE ABOUT  SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH, PROSECUTORS, AND THE COURT.

CHUTKAN ARGUED IT COULD SWAY FUTURE JURY MEMBERS IN THE CASE.THE ACLU SAID IN RESPONSE –

“THIS CASE IS ALREADY ONE OF THE MOST TALKED-ABOUT TRIALS OF ALL TIME. THERE MAY NEVER HAVE BEEN A BETTER-KNOWN CRIMINAL CASE IN AMERICAN HISTORY, OR A BETTER-KNOWN DEFENDANT.”

“WITH THAT IN MIND, TO THE EXTENT THAT THE COURT’S ORDER SEEKS TO PREVENT FUTURE STATEMENTS FROM AFFECTING THE IMPARTIALITY OF THE POTENTIAL JURY POOL, THE ORDER SEEMS UNLIKELY TO MAKE MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE.”THE ACLU IS A NONPROFIT HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION.

BUT ACCORDING TO “ALL SIDES” – AN ORGANIZATION THAT RATES BIASES –

THE ACLU LEANS LEFT ITS POLICY AGENDAS –

AND IS A KNOWN CRITIC OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP.

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HAD THIS TO SAY.

“NO MODERN-DAY PRESIDENT DID MORE DAMAGE TO CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS THAN PRESIDENT TRUMP. BUT IF WE ALLOW HIS FREE SPEECH RIGHTS TO BE ABRIDGED, WE KNOW THAT OTHER UNPOPULAR VOICES – EVEN ONES WE AGREE WITH – WILL ALSO BE SILENCED.”

TRUMP HAS APPEALED THE GAG ORDER – AND IT’S BEEN TEMPORARILY LIFTED WHILE THE COURT DECIDES WHAT TO DO NEXT.

IN NEW YORK –

THE JUDGE THERE IS THREATENING POTENTIAL IMPRISONMENT IF TRUMP CONTINUES TO VIOLATE HIS GAG ORDER.

TRUMP HAS BEEN HIGHLY CRITICAL OF THE COURTS, THE JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND INDICTMENTS AGAINST HIM.

THE GAG ORDER – PLACING LIMITS ON THE CRITICISM THAT HAS SO FAR LIT A FIRE UNDER HIS BASE.