In a court filing on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers argued that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies.
According to them, this type of protest infringed on the president’s First Amendment rights.
The filing comes as part of a case brought on by three protesters at a March 2016 Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky. The protesters allege that they were ejected from the rally by Trump supporters who were incited by the then Republican presidential candidate, who called from the stage for someone to “get ’em out of here!”
Trump’s campaign lawyers have argued that the president’s calls to remove the protesters were actually protected by the First Amendment. However, the judge hearing the case issued a ruling in late March that questioned the aforementioned argument. This ruling has now cleared the case to head down the path towards a trial.
According to Politico, Trump’s campaign lawyers’ Thursday filing asks the judge to pause the proceedings. Furthermore, it asks the judge to allow allow the legal team to appeal the ruling to a higher court “before subjecting the President to ‘unique’ and extraordinary burdens of litigation.”
Trump’s lawyers point out that he explicitly told his supporters “don’t hurt ’em” after he called for someone in the crowd to remove them.
The lawyers also argue in their filing that the now-president had every right to call for the removal of the protesters because they “obviously interfered with the Trump campaign’s First Amendment right” by “vigorously expressing their disdain for Mr. Trump.”
Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing,
“Of course, protesters have their own First Amendment right to express dissenting views, but they have no right to do so as part of the campaign rally of the political candidates they oppose.”
“even if Mr. Trump implicitly instructed the audience to remove the protesters by using force if necessary, his speech was still entirely lawful and protected under the First Amendment unless he advocated a greater degree of force than was necessary under the circumstances. Absent that type of unlawful advocacy, Mr. Trump cannot be held liable for incitement. It makes no difference whether the crowd reacted with unlawful violence beyond what Mr. Trump advocated.”