Newfound support for former President Donald Trump came on Tuesday from a truly unexpected source: the historically left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union. It’s worth noting that the ACLU filed over four hundred separate legal claims against the actions of the Trump Administration during his first term, but even a group so clearly opposed to the America First agenda has to adhere to at least one standard it was founded on: freedom of speech.
The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court or amicus brief Tuesday which according to reports, openly defended Trump and condemned U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order against him.
According to the legal brief filed by the ACLU the organization outlined in excruciating detail that Chukan’s order preventing Trump from making statements or “directing others to make any public statements, that target (1) the Special Counsel prosecuting this case or his staff; (2) defense counsel or their staff; (3) any of this court’s staff or other supporting personnel; or (4) any reasonably foreseeable witness or the substance of their testimony.”
Specifically, the ACLU pronounces, between admonishments of Trump’s past statements as “patently false and has caused great harm to countless individuals, as well as to the Republic itself,” that “The entire order hinges on the meaning of the word “target.” But that meaning is ambiguous, and fails to provide the fair warning that the Constitution demands, especially when, as here,it concerns a prior restraint on speech.”
In short, Trump cannot know in any real way what he can or cannot say and about whom. The ACLU’s legal team explained, “Reading the order, Defendant cannot possibly know what he is permitted to say, and what he is not. “Target” is an inherently vague term.”
The left-leaning watchdogs further added,
“The obvious and unprecedented public interest in this prosecution, as well as the widespread political speech that it has generated and will continue to generate, only underscores the need to apply the most stringent First Amendment standard to a restraint on Defendant’s speech rights.
Speech on matters of public concern “is at the heart of the First Amendment’s protection.” Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443, 452 (2011)(cleaned up).
There has been extensive public commentary by parties and non-parties alike about Defendant, this case, and the events that underlie it. And Defendant’sability to speak publicly about the substance of the prosecution, even including potential witnesses and testimony, is in many ways inextricable from the 2024 presidential campaign in which he is a declared candidate.”
“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 filing said.
In a statement given to the Daily Caller News Foundation, the ACLU said the issue is not about the 2024 GOP frontrunner but rather about the “principle of free speech.”
The ACLU said,
“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.”
Daily Caller further noted that Trump filed an appeal against the gag order short after it was issued and also asked the court for a stay of the order while the appeal is under consideration. Chutkan granted the administrative stay.
OANN National Political Correspondent Daniel Baldwin commented on the new development via X, “The ACLU filed a court document blasting Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order as unconstitutionally vague. You know something is absurd when the Left loses the ACLU.”
"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 filed a court document blasting Judge Tanya Chutkan's gag order as unconstitutionally vague.
You know something is absurd when the Left loses the ACLU. pic.twitter.com/r05Cahu2h9
— Daniel Baldwin (@baldwin_daniel_) October 25, 2023
Notably, the ACLU has not posted a public comment to X regarding the amicus brief filed in Trump’s favor.