Law professor calls Trump indictment an attempt to 'bulldoze' First Amendment

August 6, 2023

Last week saw Special Counsel Jack Smith once again indict former President Donald Trump, this time on charges related to his denial of the 2020 election results.

That move brought condemnation from critics, including George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley. This weekend, he accused Smith of attempting to collapse the First Amendment. 

"There is no limiting principle to this indictment"

"Trump was not charged with conspiracy to incite violence or insurrection," Turley wrote in an op-ed piece published by The Hill on Saturday.

"Rather, he was charged because he 'spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won,'" the constitutional law professor explained.

"In order to secure convictions for this, Special Counsel Jack Smith would need to bulldoze through not just the First Amendment but also existing case law holding that even false statements are protected," Turley argued.

"This indictment essentially charges Trump with not accepting the 'truth,'" he continued, adding, "There is no limiting principle to this indictment. The government would choose between which politicians are lying and which are lying without cause."

"Tens of millions of Americans" run afoul of Smith's standard

"Under our current understanding of free speech, Democrats ranging from Hillary Clinton to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) were engaged in protected speech when they called Trump illegitimate and challenged the certification of his win, even though they knew that their challenges were completely meritless," Turley pointed out.

"Yet this indictment suggests that Trump engaged (and indeed still engages) in criminal conduct by insisting that the 2020 election was stolen," Turley pointed out.

"Presumably, it also follows that tens of millions of Americans holding that same view are also involved in spreading the same false claims underlying the indictment," he noted.

Turley is far from being the only one slamming Trump's latest indictment as a First Amendment violation, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has done so as well.

Kevin McCarthy points to a double standard

According to Mediaite, McCarthy asserted at a press conference on Friday, "In America, you’re entitled to raise a question. You’re entitled to raise a question whether it was honest or not."

He pointed to how Hillary Clinton and Al Gore disputed their election losses before adding, "Were any of them put in jail? Were any of them held with no response to be able to get out? The answer is no."

"And you know, in America you are entitled to raise a question. You’re entitled to question whether it was honest or not. That’s the uniqueness of the First Amendment. That’s the uniqueness of America," he stressed.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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