Top legal expert says judge's gag order on Trump should be struck down

October 21, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

The judge, Tanya Chutkan, overseeing the case against President Donald Trump that is based on his comments about the 2020 election recently issued a wide-ranging gag order in the case, demanding that Trump give up his First Amendment rights to express his opinion.

Immediately, commentators pointed out how "corrupt left-wing judges" had turned America into a "banana republic."

After all, the politicization of the judiciary against Trump is quite clear, since his comments roughly were equivalent to Al Gore's comments about the 2000 election, which he lost, yet he faced not even an investigation, much less a prosecution.

Now, one of the nation's most highly respected legal commentators, Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School, who has not only testified before Congress on constitutional issues but represented members in court, says the order should be overturned.

"This order should concern everyone who values freedom of speech," he wrote. "This order would allow any judge to effectively strip a political candidate of the ability to contest the merits and motivations involved in his own prosecution, including challenging the veracity of prosecutors or witnesses."

He pointed out that the gag order, which silences Trump on a long range of issues and people that will be addressed in the trial, would have found even Chutkan in violation, had it applied to her in other cases.

"It is a level of restraint that Judge Chutkan herself has failed to show in the past. For example, in sentencing a rioter in 2022, Chutkan said that the rioters 'were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man – not to the Constitution."

She continued with her politicization of the issue, contending, "[i]t's a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day," suggesting that President Trump should be jailed, even though he was not part of that case.

Turley wrote, "That would seem to imply the guilt of an individual who was not even charged. Yet Chutkan has refused to recuse herself in now trying the very man she was referencing as responsible for the crimes of that day."

He pointed out that many have criticized Trump for his verbal attacks on judges and opponents.

But in this case, one of the issues is that Trump accuses Special Counsel Jack Smith of weaponizing the federal criminal justice system against him and other Republicans.

Turley pointed out that the First Amendment was written in the aftermath of government abuses, "including the infamous prosecution of publisher John Peter Zenger 290 years ago in 1733."

"Some polls show that a majority now believe the Trump prosecutions are 'politically motivated.' Tens of millions oppose the prosecutions, and this will be the single most-discussed issue of the campaign. Yet, one candidate would be both the subject of this national debate and a gag order barring full participation in it," he explained.

He criticized the judge for refusing to recognize that the case, the defendant, and the issues "are far from typical."

"Her order bars Trump from making statements against Smith, his staff, court personnel, and potential witnesses. That last category could include one of Trump’s opponents in the presidential election, former Vice President Mike Pence," Turley noted.

He also criticized Chutkan for showing "little evidence" of "any true balancing" of rights in her fight against Trump.

"Her order will only silence the voice of the man who many feel is the victim of politically motivated prosecutions. This order will do little to reduce the criticism or the coverage," he said.

Using her authority as a federal judge who is required to be neutral, and is required to recuse even if there's the "appearance" of bias, he said, "She is now gagging only one candidate — the very candidate who is campaigning against the weaponization of the criminal justice system. You do not have to like or support Trump to recognize the serious problem inherent in such a gag order."

It was commentator Shawn Fleetwood who wrote at the Federalist, "Not a week goes by without Democrats weaponizing the federal government to silence their political opponents — and Monday’s court-mandated gag order on former President Donald Trump is no different."

"Banana republic: Corrupt left-wing judges now decide what Republicans can say while campaigning," the report was headlined.

Fleetwood explained, "Smith — who indicted Trump in August over the latter’s Jan. 6, 2021, statements contesting the 2020 election — filed the motion in question last month. In his motion, Smith baselessly claimed Trump’s right to speak freely about the government’s crusade to throw him in prison 'threatens to undermine the integrity of these proceedings' and defended the request as 'modest' and 'permissible.'"

The report noted it's now judges, and leftist judges, judges who have openly taken one side in the dispute by expressing a long history of claiming President Trump should be jailed, who are "deciding what political speech is permissible for candidates to use on the campaign trail."

The report noted, "Should Trump become the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, his ability to call out the DOJ’s blatant corruption during the election would be severely curtailed. Chutkan’s order allowing Trump to criticize the DOJ while barring him from lamenting Smith and his team is a joke because Smith’s investigation is a part of the Biden administration’s greater attempt to throw their top political opponent in prison during the middle of an election."

Chutkan has, in fact, opened "the floodgates for the judicial system to restrict a political candidate’s constitutional right to speak freely during an election. What’s to stop Democrat attorneys general or prosecutors from filing flimsy charges against other Republican candidates who (rightly) lament America’s two-tiered justice system and then flocking to leftist judges to institute similar gag orders to bar such criticisms?"

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