Judge to President Trump: No protection for speech inciting violence
A federal judge has rejected President Donald Trump's free speech defense against a lawsuit accusing him of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally.
Judge David J. Hale in Louisville ruled Friday that the suit against Trump, his campaign and three of his supporters can proceed. Hale found ample facts supporting allegations that the protesters' injuries were a "direct and proximate result" of Trump's actions, and noted that the Supreme Court has ruled out constitutional protections for speech that incites violence.
"It is plausible that Trump's direction to 'get 'em out of here' advocated the use of force," the judge wrote. "It was an order, an instruction, a command."
Heimbach, for his part, sought to dismiss the lawsuit's discussion of his association with a white nationalist group and of statements he made about how Trump could advance the group's interests. The judge declined, saying such information could be important context when determining punitive damages.
The judge also declined to remove allegations that Nwanguma, an African-American, was the victim of racial, ethnic and sexist slurs from the crowd at the rally. This context may support the plaintiffs' claims of negligence and incitement by Trump and his campaign, the judge said.
"While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred," Hale wrote.