United States v. Trump (Amicus Brief)
What's at Stake
The ACLU & ACLU-DC submitted an amicus brief in United States v. Trump arguing that a gag order restricting court participants’ speech must be precisely defined and narrowly tailored to prohibit imminent threats against individuals or conduct that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice.
On October 17, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a gag order limiting former President, now Defendant, Donald Trump and his attorneys from making statements that “target” counsel or court personnel, or possible witnesses in the federal government’s case against Trump regarding the substance of their testimony. As the ACLU and its Washington, D.C. affiliate argue in an amicus brief submitted to the case, this prohibition sweeps too broadly. Much that Trump has said has been patently false and caused great harm to countless individuals, and to the Republic itself. Some of his words and actions even led him to the criminal indictment in this case, which alleges grave wrongdoing in contempt of the peaceful transition of power. But Trump retains a First Amendment right to speak, and the rest of us have a right to hear his speech. To ensure that the court’s pursuit of the impartial administration of justice does not trench on Trump’s First Amendment right to speak, or the People’s First Amendment right to hear what he has to say, the district court’s October 17 gag order should be narrowed to cover only imminent threats that would impede a fair trial.
The ACLU and ACLU of D.C. submitted a proposed amicus brief for the court’s approval on October 25, 2023.