On Wednesday, the far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made a surprising statement condemning a federal judge’s attempted gag order on former President Donald Trump…
As Politico reports, the ACLU’s statement came as a shock to many who support the group, as it had been one of Trump’s primary enemies during his presidency, frequently suing his administration to block many of his policies.
But in a new friend-of-the-court brief, the ACLU agreed with Trump’s assertion that a gag order by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan is a violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, as well as a violation of the public’s right to hear him speak.
“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,” the ACLU’s statement read.
The ACLU told Chutkan that she should re-evaluate her order, parts of which the group described as so vague that it was “unknown and perhaps unknowable.”
The group focused on one particular portion which forbade President Trump from making any statements that could be perceived as making a “target” out of Special Counsel Jack Smith, the prosecutors, court personnel, or attorneys or witnesses in the case.
“Reading the order, Defendant cannot possibly know what he is permitted to say, and what he is not,” the ACLU noted.
Chutkan had tried to justify her decision by claiming that Trump’s status as a leading presidential candidate does not make him any different from any other defendant in a criminal case, but the ACLU disagreed, citing the heightened public interest in his case and other legal cases.
“Defendant’s ability 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,” the ACLU observed.
Judge Chutkan recently agreed to temporarily halt her own gag order as President Trump’s legal team appeals the order itself. President Trump also faces three other cases, with another being in Washington D.C., one being in New York City, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. The cases generally revolve around his efforts to combat voter fraud in the 2020 election, as well as accusations of “inciting insurrection” for his speech to a crowd of peaceful protesters on January 6th, 2021.
Despite the dozens of charges he faces, President Trump’s approval ratings have consistently gone up every time a new indictment was announced, both in polling for the GOP presidential primary and for the general election in a head-to-head matchup with Joe Biden.