ACLU Backs Trump In Fight Over Judge’s Gag Order

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is arguing that the gag order a federal judge issued against former President Donald Trump is unconstitutional.

The ACLU, which filed over 400 legal challenges against the Trump administration, affirmed the former president’s First Amendment rights in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Wednesday. The brief argues that District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s order barring Trump from making public statements targeting Special Counsel Jack Smith or his staff, the defense counsel or their staff, court staff and witnesses is too broad and includes issues that could be relevant to the 2024 presidential campaign.

“Much that he has said has been patently false and has caused great harm to countless individuals, as well as to the Republic itself. Some of his words and actions have led him to this criminal indictment, which alleges grave wrongdoing in contempt of the peaceful transition of power,” the brief says. “But Trump retains a First Amendment right to speak, and the rest of us retain a right to hear what he has to say.”

The order’s use of the word “target” is “unconstitutionally vague,” the organization argued.

“Reading the order, Defendant cannot possibly know what he is permitted to say, and what he is not,” the ACLU wrote. “In the context of the order, it could mean something as innocuous as ‘name’ or ‘identify,’ or something much more violent.” (RELATED: ‘Uncharted Territory’: Obama-Appointed Judge’s Gag Order On Trump Is The First Of Its Kind, Legal Experts Say)

The organization also took issue with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s inclusion in the gag order and asked the judge to exclude public officials.

“Attempts to gag speech that addresses how the Special Counsel is conducting his work, on the grounds of ensuring the proper and impartial administration of justice, unduly undermine public discussion on matters of public concern that is at the heart of what the First Amendment protects,” the ACLU wrote.

Additionally, statements about witnesses are likely to be “key points in the ongoing 2024 presidential campaign,” the brief states.

The ACLU told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that this issue is not about Trump but the “principle of free speech.”

“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 organization said.

Trump filed a notice of appeal shortly after the gag order was issued. He also requested a stay on the order last week pending appeal.

Chutkan granted a temporary administrative stay on the order while the court considers his request.

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