This is actually a rather interesting argument on First Amendment rights.
President Trump’s lawyers are trying to make the case in court that the right to voice a dissenting opinion stops at the door into his campaign rallies.
This particular opinion was included in a court filing on Thursday, as Trump’s lawyers address the lawsuit brought by three protesters, who were roughed up at a March 2016 Trump rally, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Lawyers for Trump’s campaign have argued that his calls to remove the protesters were protected by the First Amendment. But the federal district court judge hearing the case issued a ruling late last month questioning that argument, as well as the claim that Trump didn’t intend for his supporters to use force.
The ruling cleared the case to proceed into discovery and towards a trial.
They’re hoping to halt the current proceedings and move the trial into a higher court, where they plan to argue that Trump’s call from the stage to “Get ‘em out of here” is protected speech, according to the First Amendment.
Here’s an interesting factoid to go with that, and it will likely be used as part of Trump’s defense: At some point after saying, “Get ‘em out of here,” he also said, “Don’t hurt ‘em.”
That sort of grates against the claims of the protesters that he incited violence against them. His lawyers will likely argue that with that statement, he clarified that he wasn’t advocating violence.
Trump’s lawyers also argue that he had every right to call for the removal the protesters since they “obviously interfered with the Trump campaign’s First Amendment right” by “vigorously expressing their disdain for Mr. Trump,” including by chanting and holding up signs depicting Trump’s face on the body of a pig, among other anti-Trump messages.
“Of course, protesters have their own First Amendment right to express dissenting views, but they have no right to do so as part of the campaign rally of the political candidates they oppose,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
So this is the puzzle: They were free to protest outside of the venue and it was about their First Amendment rights. When they move their protest inside and attempt to disrupt the rally from the inside, are they then infringing on his First Amendment rights?
Trump’s lawyers are arguing that because of his First Amendment rights, simply saying to get them out of the venue wasn’t incitement.
Is Trump responsible for inciting his supporters to harm the protesters?
It’s hard to say. At least one of those supporters – a white nationalist named Matthew Heimbach, who is also named in the lawsuit – has brought a suit of his own against Trump. He says the charges for assault brought against him were due to his following Trump’s directive, therefore, Trump is responsible for any damages won against him, as well as any court costs.
It just gets stickier, doesn’t it?