Federal DC District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over former President and current Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s (R) trial on “election charges,” has issued a gag order limiting what Trump is allowed to say on matters associated with that trial. Her gag order should be found, on appeal, to be strongly unconstitutional—based on Chutkan’s own characterization of her order.
His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify public servants who are simply doing their jobs[.]
Trump’s status as a Presidential candidate is wholly irrelevant to this. Trump’s status as an American citizen is.
Here is what the Right to Petition Clause of the First Amendment of our Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Chutkan’s public servants are, most assuredly, Government officials, and Citizen (and Presidential candidate) Trump, most assuredly, is allowed to petition them, including through criticism, without regard to how prettily or rudely he couches his phrases.
That same Amendment also has this Free Speech Clause:
Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech
Citizen (and Presidential candidate) Trump, most assuredly, is allowed to speak about, as well as to, those same public servants, (and any other person, Government official or not) whether he does so with pretty words that suit Chutkan’s personal preference or with plainer words.
Chutkan’s characterization is her motive for issuing her gag order, and that motive disqualifies her order on its face: it was issued in bad faith, solely to satisfy her personal definition of propriety. It has nothing to do with any material or potentially prejudicial impact on the ongoing case, which is the sole reason for issuing any gag order.