Judge rejects Trump's free speech defence over violence at campaign rally

Katrina Soto
April 3, 2017

"Presumably, if he had intended for protesters to be escorted out by security personnel, Trump would have instructed the intervening audience members to stop what they were doing, rather than offering guidance on how to go about it", Hale wrote in his decision.

Much of it was captured on video and widely broadcast during the campaign, showing the Republican pointing at the protesters and repeating "get them out".

As The Chicago Tribune reported, federal judge David J. Hale ruled that the suit could proceed, noting that the Supreme Court has previously ruled out constitutional protections for speech that incites violence, finding "ample facts supporting allegations that the protesters" injuries were a "direct and proximate result' of Trump's actions".

The lawsuit also names Matthew Heimbach, Alvin Bamberger and an unknown person as defendants.

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Trump and three defendants in attendance - Matthew Heimbach, a leader with the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network from Paoli, Ind.; Alvin Bamberger, a member of the Korean War Veterans Association from OH; and an unknown individual - are being sued. At some of his rallies, Trump told supporters to "knock the crap out of" a protester and waxed nostalgic about the "old days" when a protester would be "carried out on a stretcher".

Bamberger reportedly expressed regret over having been "caught up in the frenzy" at the rally, in a statement to the KWVA previous year.

"It is plausible that Trump's direction to "get 'em out of here" advocated the use of force", Hale wrote, according to the Washington Post. "It was an order, an instruction, a command". "Based on the allegations of the complaint, which the Court must accept as true, Trump's statement at least "implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action". Just before becoming president, Trump paid out $25 million to settle three lawsuits brought against Trump University. Trump's lawyers tried to get the case thrown out by arguing the president's comments were free speech, but in his opinion, the judge noted that the First Amendment doesn't protect incitement to commit violence. The men weren't employed by Trump or his campaign and therefore weren't under his control during the rally, Hale wrote. Hale insisted that under the law every person owes every other person a duty of care to avoid a foreseeable injury.

Other reports by My Hot News

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