America First Legal Files Brief Defending Donald J. Trump’s First Amendment Rights in D.C. Circuit Case Involving Unconstitutional Gag Order

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) filed a brief defending Donald J. Trump’s First Amendment rights at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. This case arises from an unprecedented gag order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s politically-motivated prosecution of Former President Trump in Washington, D.C. 

The gag order prevents the President from making public statements that target the Special Counsel or his staff, public statements that target any reasonably foreseeable witnesses or the substance of their testimony, and directing others to make any public statements about either of those two categories. 

This absurd gag order is just another example of the Biden administration unjustly using its power to silence its political opponents and to attempt to prevent President Trump from speaking. AFL’s brief highlights two critical issues for the court:

  • The gag order empowers a single district court judge to supervise the speech of a leading candidate for the Presidency. 
  • The gag order violates the separation of powers because it deprives the former President of the ability to engage in political speech and political association, which interferes with Executive Branch accountability in its discretionary functions. 

As AFL’s brief highlights, the Biden Administration has authorized the appointment of, and an indictment by, a Special Counsel. That indictment charges President Biden’s principal political rival and likely general-election opponent, Donald J. Trump, with multiple federal crimes. The gag order sharply curtails President Trump’s ability to engage in core political speech and political association, thereby limiting his ability to keep both the Special Counsel and the President “accountable . . . to his country in his political character.” 

That political accountability—like the First Amendment’s protections—“has its fullest and most urgent application . . . during a campaign for political office.” Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310, 339 (2010). And the gag order prevents President Trump from engaging in that core political speech despite his campaign for political office. 

America First Legal is proud to support President Trump’s right to free speech and will continue to be vocal against the Biden Administration’s weaponization of the Department of Justice and the federal government at large. 

Statement from Gene Hamilton, America First Legal Vice President and General Counsel:

“America First Legal is proud to support President Trump’s right to free speech. As the Supreme Court has recognized, the First Amendment’s protections have the fullest and most urgent application during political campaigns–yet Jack Smith sought and obtained an unprecedented gag order that prevents President Biden’s chief political rival–Donald Trump–from criticizing the unprecedented process to which he is being subjected. The gag order is unprecedented, unjust, and the Court of Appeals should overturn it,” said Gene Hamilton.

Read the brief here.

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