In a striking assertion of the principles that underpin our democracy, a distinguished legal expert recently voiced his concerns over the gag order placed on former President Donald Trump, calling it a blatant infringement on constitutional rights. Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, a respected figure in the legal community, did not mince words when he declared the gag order both “unconstitutional” and “dangerous.”
The gag order was issued concerning an election case involving the former president. It was imposed on October 17 by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, following a request by special counsel Jack Smith. This move has sparked a vigorous debate about the sanctity of free speech and the lengths to which the judiciary may go in limiting the voices of political figures.
Turley, in his appearance on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” criticized the decision, emphasizing its potential constitutional violations. He noted that the federal appeals court’s temporary freeze on the gag order, pending a full review, could be significant due to the unconstitutional nature of the order.
The gag order has faced backlash not just from conservative circles but also from organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), known for being critical of Trump. The ACLU has labeled the gag order as “flagrantly unconstitutional,” highlighting a rare consensus across the political spectrum on safeguarding free speech.
The case, which is one among several faced by Trump, involves 91 felony counts and comes at a time when he is considered a front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Trump, steadfast in his innocence, has portrayed these accusations as attempts by his adversaries to sabotage his political aspirations.
In a post on Truth Social, Trump expressed his anger at the gag order, calling it an “unthinkable” violation of his First Amendment rights. He emphasized that such an order, which restricts his ability to communicate with over 100 million Americans, is unprecedented in American history.
Turley, echoing these sentiments, wrote an op-ed condemning the gag order as an infringement on freedom of speech. He argued that the order is “overbroad and dangerous” and should be overturned. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision to temporarily halt the gag order aligns with Turley’s perspective. However, the court clarified that this should not be considered a ruling on the motion’s merits.
Trump’s legal team has fervently opposed the gag order, underscoring its violation of constitutionally protected free speech. The ACLU’s executive director, Anthony D. Romero, also criticized the order as “too broad and too vague,” warning against the dangerous precedent it sets for suppressing unpopular voices.
The gag order, now temporarily suspended, had prohibited Trump from making public statements that could influence the case. This restriction is not only central to the case in Washington but also mirrors a similar gag order imposed on Trump in a civil case in New York.