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Your Rights at Stake in Trump Trials

Posted on Wednesday, November 1, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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President Donald J. Trump disembarks Marine One at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, and is escorted to Air Force One by U.S. Air Force personnel.

When the American Civil Liberties Union goes to bat for Donald Trump, it’s a red flag. The ACLU generally fights for far-left causes.

But the ACLU always has championed the rights of the accused. This time, the accused is Trump.

The ACLU is protesting a gag order imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on Oct. 17 to silence Trump, at the request of federal prosecutor Jack Smith. Trump has called Smith a “thug.”

Chutkan’s order bars Trump from making any statements “targeting” Smith, the witnesses in the case or the judge herself. Trump’s lawyers appealed. Chutkan paused the gag order for several days but reinstated it on Sunday.

The ACLU is backing Trump’s right to speak.

Whether you like Trump or hate him, watch this battle. If prosecutors can silence a former president, think what they could do to you.

The ACLU argues the gag order violates Trump’s First Amendment rights and the public’s right to hear Trump’s views so they can decide “whether he deserves to be elected again.”

History and the Bill of Rights are on Trump’s side.

In 1987, a trial court attempted to gag Rep. Harold Ford, on trial for selling influence. An appeals court struck down the gag order.

That appeals court ruled that “the defendant, a Democrat, a black congressman who represents a largely black constituency in Memphis, is entitled to attack the alleged political motives of the Republican administration which he claims is persecuting him because of his political views and his race.” The judges added “he has the right to express his outrage.”

So does Trump. The battle over Trump’s gag order is a mirror image of the Ford case.

In 1999, another federal appeals court suspended a gag against Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown, who was facing criminal charges. The court reasoned that silencing Brown would deprive him of the right to defend himself to the electorate as he ran for reelection.

On Monday, when Chutkan reinstated her gag order, she declared that “the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice.”

Sorry, Judge. Not in America. The Bill of Rights was written to protect defendants, not the government or the “orderly administration of justice.”

The Sixth Amendment lists the rights that belong to the “accused.” Only the accused. When Chutkan says she’s defending the rights of government, Americans should be fearful.

Chutkan defends her gag order by saying the First Amendment doesn’t permit Trump “to launch a pretrial smear campaign” against the people prosecuting him. “No other defendant would be allowed to do so.”

Untrue. Chutkan needs a refresher course on the history of the Bill of Rights.

First-year law students study John Peter Zenger, a New York printer jailed and hauled into court in 1735, long before the American Revolution, for denouncing the colony’s royal governor. While Zenger sat in jail, his wife heroically kept the presses running. At trial, the jury ignored the judge’s instructions and refused to convict Zenger — making him an early hero of the resistance to government tyranny.

Four decades later, in 1787, as the Framers wrote the U.S. Constitution, they invoked Zenger’s trial, calling it “the germ of American freedom.”

Fast forward to the present. Trump is also on trial in New York, where Judge Arthur Engoron has imposed a gag order barring Trump from denouncing members of the court. On Wednesday, the judge slapped Trump with a $10,000 fine for allegedly criticizing Engoron’s clerk.

Engoron said, “I don’t think that it is impinging on someone’s First Amendment rights to protect my staff.”

Wrong. Horribly wrong. The First Amendment is not designed to shield government officials from criticism.

The heavy-handed judges presiding over the Trump trials are turning him into a poster boy for freedom of speech and the rights of the accused.

Kudos to the ACLU for separating politics from principles and opposing the gag orders. Every American, including Trump, is guaranteed the freedom to speak out against the government.

As Trump says, “They’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you, and I’m just in the way.”

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.

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PaulE
PaulE
8 months ago

That even the leftists that make up the ACLU find the current crop of bogus cases filed against President Trump too much to swallow, just shows how utterly broken and corrupt the American justice system has become under Democrat (Socialist) control. What is happening to Trump is no different than how dictators in countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, China and Russia treat their political opposition. Same exact strategies and tactics being employed. Look at how the leaders of Venezuela, Argentina and Turkey just cleared away their main opposition over the last two or three weeks using their own weaponized justice systems. Then compare it to how the Democrat are targeting Trump in every single case brought against him. Same strategy and tactics.

If anyone is foolish enough to think this is just a one-off to simply target Trump and everyone of consequence around him, then you’re living in a dream world. We, as a country, have slid far enough down the path of becoming a socialist democracy (what the left calls a socialist dictatorship) to now use the so-called weaponized justice system to target anyone the state deems a threat or potential threat to their unilateral grip on power. That is how every one of the countries I’ve mentioned above operate today. If Trump were convicted and imprisoned on all charges, in all cases, tomorrow and someone else came along that the Democrats felt potentially posed a threat to their power, they would turn the same weaponized justice system on them in a similar fashion. It’s how socialism and communism operate to retain power and control. The quote from President Trump at the end of article sums up things nicely. It is concise and completely accurate.

Dan W.
Dan W.
8 months ago

The ACLU has been pretty absolutist regarding the First Amendment (remember when they almost sank their own organization by supporting a Nazi march through Skokie, IL) so it does not surprise me that they are advocating for President Trump in this case.

However, President Trump should be more aware of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Anything that he says on the courthouse steps can be used to impeach his testimony in court and unlike a criminal prosecution, he can be compelled to testify in this case.

Rik
Rik
8 months ago

People, when was the last time you saw or heard the people criticize their governments that live in Communist run countries? NEVER! . . . Because THEY DON’T ALLOW IT!!! . . . Well, if the Democrats have their way we will definitely have a SILENCED critique of their actions! . . . WELCOME TO COMMUNISM PEOPLE!

Betty Perley
Betty Perley
8 months ago

Totally agree with your conclusion, Freedom of speech does not allow gag orders for anyone!

Melinda
Melinda
8 months ago

Our first amendment rights, and all others in the Bill of Rights, are inalienable. They cannot be taken away because of some judge. Hang tough, Trump.

Marc Ziegler.
Marc Ziegler.
8 months ago

It can be said now, in 2023, that America has turned into a “Banana Republic”, Period! What they, I mean the liberal left Dem’s are doing to Trump is what they want to do to all of us who have a brain, shut up, sit down, and be quiet or they are going to come after anyone who disagrees with them. Kind of reminds me of Nazi Germany, storm trooper and all. God help us if these morons still stay in power, America as we have known it will be no more. Go Trump, MAGA!

Tom
Tom
8 months ago

That is a great story. This is why we have the Constitution and the Amendments!It has always been said that Democracy is 1 step away from socialism. If everyone would wake up we won’t go down that path. Trump said he was going to “Drain the Swamp”. Just look at who is doing all of the complaining and trying to keep him silent and those are the ones that have the most to fear when the truth is exposed. Remember throw a stone in a pack of dogs and the one it hits will yell the loudest!

Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
8 months ago

yup and that is why the prosecutors and judges involved need to be put in prison.

It is also proof that the leftists have lost all ability to see long term consequences of their behavior.

Jess
Jess
8 months ago

Wow! What a story! Everyday Americans are finally waking up to the fact that tyranny is at their doorstep. Better late than never.
Just a hunch, but next year there’s going to be a political blood bath for for the Democratic Party! As this article points out, for the ALCU to weigh in, it is indeed a RED FLAG waving in their collective faces!

Terence
Terence
8 months ago

It seems that the Prosecutors and the Judges in President Trump’s cases, skipped law school classes when the law schools were teaching law.

Mary Dickens
Mary Dickens
8 months ago

It’s time for everyone to write their congressmen and say it’s time to put a stop to this. Trump put a stop to a lot of things the deep state was doing and because of that they are afraid to let him back in: he’s much smarter now and could probably stop the communists in their tracks. How much is this nonsense costing us taxpayers?

Garyk
Garyk
8 months ago

Is anyone surprised that the marxist democrat party is pushing so hard to destroy America and Freedom?
These traitors are shoving it down Citizens throats daring is to push back. They don’t care about anyone other than themselves.
Shut them up – THROW THEM OUT

Robert
Robert
8 months ago

It should be obvious now, those in power are living in a parallel universe. Their religion is secular humanism, which always fails because morality is on shifting sands. It can only be established by a ruthless totalitarian government.
Prosecutors turned persecutors, unequal application of the law, biased activist judges who adhere to an agenda not the law, total disregard for basic rights. One man who manipulated the system for a LOAN which he paid back is being persecuted while another man made millions through influence peddling and treason.
Who would have ever thought we would see people’s right to free speech taken away in the United States of America?
To all the RINOS — when will you wake up and realize these people will stop at NOTHING to GET power & STAY in power — including throwing out the Bill of Rights? That started with capturing the education system, the media, and permanent power though manipulation of the election process??? Sound familiar?
If they are not DEFEATED and this ideology DESTROYED this country will regress 250 years right back to the tyranny of the ruling class. We are already 3/4 the way there!

David Millikan
David Millikan
8 months ago

Convict judge chutkan is a disgrace and should be removed immediately from ever sitting on a bench again.
President Trump WON his Illegal and Unconstitutional case against him and it definitely needs to be thrown out immediately.
This case has been nothing but pure Election Interference and politically motivated with disregard to the law and violating President Trump’s constitutional rights of Free Speech guaranteed in the 1st Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

NIck
NIck
8 months ago

Yes, I am a republican and I am scared of Trump. Anybody who thinks there is much trueth in what he has to say does not care about this country. Because he has ideas is not a reason for him to threaten people. He is purposely trying to scare off anybody who might have to sit and judge his personal life. We NEED an honest person with good ideas for our country. You need to look at the person and what has happened when he has left office. The constitution does not give anybody the right to threaten somebody.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
8 months ago

That’s one way to eliminate voter fraud: eliminating anyone you choose to vote for through false or frivolous court cases ir 14th Am. them for being “subversive”.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
8 months ago

The truth is the Dems . and the left are scard of Trump. . Kyle L.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
8 months ago

Yep its Free Speech for sure

J. FARLEY
J. FARLEY
8 months ago

Here is a simple Question, at what point does the Supreme Court step in and get this mess straighten out!
I know when it’s too late!

Jerry_M_Tx
Jerry_M_Tx
8 months ago

Abso-freakin-lutely!

John Brian Hudspeth
John Brian Hudspeth
8 months ago

Thank you, Betsy!

Linda
Linda
8 months ago

Very interesting indeed and very surprised.

Rick
Rick
8 months ago

The judges didn’t take away Trumps’ right to speak, they just
put limits on his choice of adjectives. AS for myself I’m tired of Trumps use of
“Don Rickles style” of insult humor. Hey “Donnie the Dodger” grow up !!!!
Layout your “b**ch” like the educated adult you claim you are. In reality your
just another N.Y. wiseA**. and most of the time your more A** than wise.

republican 427
republican 427
8 months ago

george pataki was generally a good governor but his entire legacy was tarnished by choosing the idiot betsy mccaughey

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