Trump’s First Amendment Defense of Mobilizing His Violent Mob

There’s a move in Trump’s motion for a stay pending appeal of the gag order Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed that deserves more attention.

Trump appealed the gag last Tuesday and requested the stay on Thursday, about which Judge Chutkan ordered additional briefing that same day; we’ll see more briefing about this all week.

MINUTE ORDER as to DONALD J. TRUMP: Upon consideration of Defendant’s opposed 110 Motion for Stay Pending Appeal, Request for Temporary Administrative Stay, and Memorandum in Support, it is hereby ORDERED that the court’s 105 Opinion and Order is administratively STAYED to permit the parties’ briefing and the court’s consideration of Defendant’s Motion. It is FURTHER ORDERED that the government shall file any opposition to Defendant’s Motion by October 25, 2023, and that Defendant shall file any Reply by October 28, 2023.

A substantial portion of the 33-page motion speaks for the First Amendment rights of his mob to hear, respond to, and amplify Trump’s speech. To defend this principle, Trump cites, among other things, the Missouri v. Biden that SCOTUS just agreed to review over the objections of Sam Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch.

Under the First Amendment, violating the rights of a speaker inflicts an equal and reciprocal constitutional injury on the listener. “Freedom of speech presupposes a willing speaker. But where a speaker exists, . . . the protection afforded is to the communication, to its source and to its recipients both.” Virginia State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 756 (1976) (emphasis added) (collecting many cases); see also, e.g., Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. F.C.C., 395 U.S. 367, 390 (1969) (“It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.”); Packingham v. North Carolina, 582 U.S. 98, 104 (2017) (recognizing the right to “speak and listen, and then … speak and listen once more,” as a “fundamental principle of the First Amendment”); Missouri v. Biden, — F.4th –, No. 23- 30445, 2023 WL 6425697, at *11 (5th Cir. Oct. 3, 2023) (holding that the “right to listen is ‘reciprocal’ to the … right to speak” and “constitutes an independent basis” for relief). Thus, injuring President Trump’s ability to speak injures the First Amendment rights of over 100 million Americans who listen to him, respond to him, and amplify his message.

The claim to have 100 million listeners is a bit like calling his NY penthouse 33,000 square feet, insofar as it relies on overlapping numbers, including the 87 million followers he has but does not tweet to on Xitter.

Trump necessarily dedicates a very long footnote to explaining how he has standing to appeal this gag on behalf of his mob.

3 President Trump unquestionably has third-party standing to defend the rights of his audiences in this context. The Supreme Court is “quite forgiving” of third-party standing requirements “[w]ithin the context of the First Amendment.” Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 130 (2004). The First Amendment’s overbreadth doctrine, for example, relieves the third-party plaintiff of the burden to show the usual “close relationship” and “hindrance” required by the third-party standing doctrine, id.; instead, Article III injury is all that is required. See id.; United States v. Sineneng-Smith, 140 S. Ct. 1575, 1586 (2020) (Thomas, J., concurring) (“Litigants raising overbreadth challenges rarely satisfy either requirement [‘close relationship’ and ‘hindrance’], but the Court nevertheless allows third-party standing.”) (citing Dombroski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 487 (1965)); N.J. Bankers Ass’n v. Att’y Gen., 49 F.4th 849, 860 (3d Cir. 2022) (noting that “the requirement that an impediment exist to the third party asserting his . . . own rights” does not apply when the challenged government action “substantially abridges the First Amendment rights of other parties not before the court”). Further, as the Supreme Court held in Bantam Books Inc. v. Sullivan, it is particularly important to allow third-party standing to vindicate First Amendment interests because “freedoms of expression … are vulnerable to gravely damaging yet barely visible encroachments” and must be protected by “the most rigorous procedural safeguards.” 372 U.S. 58, 66 (1963); see also id. at 64 n.6 (upholding the third-party standing of book publishers to assert the rights of distributors because “[t]he distributor … is not likely to sustain sufficient economic injury to induce him to seek judicial vindication of his rights,” whereas the seller has a “greater . . . stake” in vindicating those rights). In addition, the doctrine of third-party standing applies “when enforcement of the challenged restriction against the litigant would result indirectly in the violation of third parties’ rights.” Kowalski, 543 U.S. at 130. Here, the interference and restriction of President Trump’s First Amendment rights “would result indirectly in the violation of third parties’ rights,” id.—i.e., the rights of his audiences to receive, respond to, and amplify his speech.

I think this footnote is suspect, legally and practically. I mean, the notion that Stephen Miller’s NGO for fascism couldn’t vindicate these rights is nonsense. But it is nevertheless telling.

Trump makes that argument even while complaining that Judge Chutkan had to rely on the potential actions of others — that very same mob riled up by the amplified false victimization of Trump — to justify the gag itself.

Unable to justify the Gag Order based on President Trump’s actions, the prosecution pivots to third parties, alleging that unnamed others, outside of President Trump’s control, acted improperly before this case began. Such concerns cannot justify the Gag Order. The Supreme Court has repeatedly explained that citizens of this country cannot be censored based on a fear of what others might do. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969) (“[T]he constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy . . . except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”).


In entering the Gag Order, the Court relied heavily on the anticipated reactions of unidentified, independent third parties to President Trump’s speech. The Court found that “when Defendant has publicly attacked individuals, including on matters related to this case, those individuals are consequently threatened and harassed.” Id. at 2. But the Court cited no evidence that President Trump’s statements—as distinct from the statements of millions of others—caused such alleged threats or harassment, let alone that the statements were directed to inciting imminent lawless action.

Remember, Trump has repeatedly denied that the indictment accuses him of mobilizing the mob against Congress. Even after DOJ disabused Trump of that fantasy, he is playing coy about the fact that the crime he is alleged to have committed significantly involves riling up a mob to use as a weapon.

Indeed, Trump admits this is the plan to get elected: to rile up the mob again, this time by using this prosecution as a trigger.

The prosecution filed the indictment in this matter on August 1, 2023. Doc. 1. As this case is pending, President Trump continues to campaign for President, and one of his core messages is that the prosecutions against him are part of an unconstitutional strategy to attack and silence the Biden Administration’s chief political rival. To advance this message, President Trump has made many public statements criticizing individuals he believes are wrongly prosecuting him, including President Biden, Attorney General Garland, and Special Prosecutor Jack Smith and his team. This viewpoint—that the prosecution is politically motivated—is one shared by countless Americans.


President Trump’s speech in support of his re-election campaign—which is inextricably intertwined with this prosecution and his defense—lies “at the core of our electoral process of the First Amendment freedoms—an area . . . where protection of robust discussion is at its zenith.” Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414, 425 (1988) (citations and quotations omitted); see also Buckley v. Am. Const. Law Found., Inc., 525 U.S. 182, 186–87 (1999); McIntyre v. Ohio Elec. Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 347 (1995) (“[C]ore political speech” encompasses any “advocacy of a politically controversial viewpoint.” “No form of speech is entitled to greater constitutional protection than” core political speech.).

Some of this is just cynicism: by claiming all this is political speech, Trump does base his appeal on the most expansive First Amendment precedent. The legal arguments here, some of them, anyway, are not frivolous.

But he’s not wrong about his campaign strategy. The key to Trump’s political success since he was sworn in was to polarize the electorate based off false claims that any investigation of Trump’s crimes is an attack on him and his mob.

And at one point, Trump’s argument admits that this is all an argument about democracy.

The Gag Order’s carve-outs exacerbate the vagueness problems by imposing new layers of confusion upon the Order. Doc. 105, at 3. The carve-outs seem to authorize “criticizing the government generally, including the current administration or the Department of Justice,” but that does not seem to include criticizing the most relevant figure of the Department of Justice, i.e., Jack Smith. Id. The carve-outs supposedly allow President Trump to state “that his prosecution is politically motivated,” but the Gag Order prevents him from “targeting” the specific actors involved in his prosecution, so it prevents him from giving any specific or detailed justification for this claim. Id. Where claiming that the prosecution is politically motivated ends, and “targeting” the prosecutors against President Trump begins, is anyone’s guess. The carve-outs apparently authorize “statements criticizing the platforms or policies of . . . former Vice President Pence,” id., but the “platforms or policies” of candidates like Pence (and Biden) are deeply intertwined with their views on election integrity, with specific reference to the 2020 election. When does criticism of Mike Pence’s “platforms or policies” become a statement “that target[s] . . . the substance of [his] testimony,” id., when questions about the integrity of the 2020 election are “central” to the 2024 Presidential campaign?

Joe Biden (comments about whom this gag does not restrict) is running on democracy. Mike Pence is running on defending the Constitution.

Trump is running on a promise that none of that matters: no election outcome — not that of 2020, not that of 2024 — should be respected, unless he wins.

And the way to ensure that happens, Trump knows, is to guard the right of his mob to amplify and respond to his false claims of victimization.

62 replies
  1. wasD4v1d says:

    The new delaying tactic will probe whether the judiciary considers there to be a legal or Constitutional difference between running into a movie theater and shouting ‘Fire!’ versus running into a fire station and shouting ‘Movie!’

  2. David F. Snyder says:

    Whatevs, Trump. You still don’t use those means to taint the jury pool and delegitimize the justice system in the media.

  3. BenFDCMD says:

    I think that Dr. Wheeler’s key insight here is missing a word or two, and that it is important to express the thought clearly.

    Her statement:

    “The key to Trump’s political success since he was sworn in was to polarize the electorate based off false claims that any investigation of Trump’s crimes is an attack on him and his mob.”

    The polarization comes from Trump falsely labeling all investigations as *partisan* attacks or *politically motivated* attacks grounded in bad faith. It’s the same move trump makes when he calls Strzok and Page biased, as if it were not possible for fear of a Trump presidency to be based on a good faith informed opinion of the man’s character.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Trump is a victim, he was born a pauper, despite having been made a millionaire by his daddy while still in his crib.

  5. Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

    Anyone ever wonder how many of those millions of followers are actually bots, sockpuppets, and outright scammers. After all, they just want to get in Donnie’s grift because, like him, they see his supporters as easy marks.

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      OK, I am not proud to have to admit to having this thought:

      I would never do this, but I’d thought about how easy and profitable it’d be to set up enticing MAGA Swag and bogus donation operations. I’m sure you could do so in ways that, while skeevy, would not be actionably illegal.

      Back when I lived in Vegas I ran an online “store” to sell MDSE for my friends’ band that I was promoting at the time. LOL. I still have the PayPal account. Pickin’ MAGA pockets would be way easy.

      These cats, sheee-it.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I think we can’t trust any of the numbers coming out of the xitter’s or the non-truther’s platforms. They are whatever they want them to be.

      And I also believe that many/most of the ‘clicks’ that these social media platforms (throwing in facebook also) are automated.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah? Then where is one supposed to go? Mastodon and Blue Sky are worthless so far. Where should people that want to be informed go? Please preach to me about how much more valuable the alternatives are. And it will be preaching.

        • LaMissy! says:

          Been pondering this question, and so far the answer maybe is “nowhere else”. I enjoy being informed and have described Twitter as being like the tickertape feed in Katherine Heburn’s “The Philadelphia Story.” But I don’t have to have it for work or anything else, so…less screen time, more EW.

        • obsessed says:

          I’m probably full of crap and missing something obvious, but it appeared to me that Threads had the infrastructure to create an interface that behaves exactly as Twitter used to, and that could have handled the influx of all the disgruntled Twitter users without missing a beat, and that the only reason the initial exodus from X to Threads didn’t succeed was that Threads chose not to implement the key feature that made Twitter so valuable: searching by topic. With Threads, you could only search for users. They had X on the ropes but inexplicably chose not to deliver the knockout punch and everyone lost interest.

          With Twitter, if there were an earthquake in San Francisco, you could search for earthquake and every Twitter user in the area became a reporter. The ability to do this also fueled the automated “trending” feature so that you could quickly see what breaking news was happening anywhere and everywhere. This made Twitter a tremendous tool for getting news faster than from any other source. With Threads, all you get for such a search is users with Earthquake in their handle and what you see in your feed is just whatever Threads feels like showing you. So it’s basically useless as a source of breaking news. In that exciting first week of Threads, I remember reading that this had been a conscious choice by Meta. Maybe they got what they wanted. We all wanted a pre-Musk Twitter equivalent. Meta could have provided it but chose not to. There must be some reason, but I don’t see it.

        • Knowatall says:

          That’s not the OP’s point, I think. Rather, social media platforms, along with almost every other commercial form of communication, seek to enhance/enlarge their claims of influence. This has been true since before Nielsen and magazine audits.

        • RipNoLonger says:

          The fault lies in companies and governments and organizations relying on platforms that are controlled by individuals and for-profit companies without regulation.

          We could say that these are the Public Service Announcements of yesteryear that appeared on the major carriers. Or the legal notices placed in newspapers of record. The VOA might be another example of a way to get the USGOV message broadcast.

          But to rely on some tech-bro’s idea of ways to monetize eyeballs and advertising while also *sometimes* showing some truthful nuggets seems insane.

          • Rayne says:

            I need you to change the subject because your comment is both drifting off topic and a sore subject which will only cause this thread to degrade further.

            • RipNoLonger says:

              Happy to change the subject but I don’t see the button to push. I’ll not push this particular button any more!

        • improperyour says:

          Mastodon is what usually draws me here to read the articles — so I don’t see it as useless. You get what you follow I guess (which can be a closed loop as well).

          I’m not 100% sure why you need such a place to follow the goings on however, there are plenty of reputable news sources to read.

          • emptywheel says:

            Thanks for sharing that. I’ve got a lot of followers over there but haven’t figured out how to engage as easily as on BlueSky. I keep trying though!

        • Mycotropic says:

          It sounds a bit like you’re pineing for the twitter that was when it was new and different and unexplored. It’s dead now, fully understood, fully exploited and useless for what it us do to be.i love mastodon for the friendships I’ve picked up and I can read some news and NPR stuff but there’s no going back to the origins of twitter because that’s dead.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t know why you hate Mastodon, but I go there for news. It’s not selling my information…

  6. Matt Foley says:

    I thought he was doing this for himself but then I see he’s defending the rights of his audiences. Gosh, he really is doing it all for us! How could I have been so blind?

  7. Chetnolian says:

    It’s hard for a lawyer from a country which does not have a 1st Amendment right, but seems to get by more or less ok on freedom of speech, to even comprehend this nonsense. If our simple (perhaps simplistic, others will tell me) contempt of court rules applied, the ad hominem attacks by Trump on judges and court officials would result in instant sanction by the judge without the need for a pre-existing gag order.

    And it is surely the ad hominem nature of his attacks, which his acolytes love but which are usually simple schoolyard insults, which is at the heart of the difference between proper political discourse and what the gag order prohibits.

    • David Brooks says:

      …the ad hominem nature of his attacks, which his acolytes love because they are usually simple schoolyard insults…


      • HikaakiH says:

        Trumpian politics is for the ‘hard of thinking’ – simple solutions for the grievances of simple people; Never mind that if the world’s troubles had simple solutions, we would all have been living in nirvana since long ago.

        • LadyHawke says:

          True, but there are also the times a simple solution interferes with the profit or grift of complication.

  8. Rugger_9 says:

    What always seems to be missing in these discussions over rights is that their 1A (and 2A) rights stop when they conflict with my equal rights. What these MAGA types and their Dominionist allies want is to impose their rules on the rest of us for our own good.

    So, perhaps DoJ needs to ask how many dead are allowed before any restrictions are applied to the MAGA / Defendant-1 1A claims. The recent murder of Sam Woll may not be an anti-semitic act (according to DoJ) but I would not be surprised that it was a political murder. After all, the MI GOP was perfectly fine with invading the Capitol in Lansing and (allegedly) kidnapping the Governor. Doesn’t Gretchen Whitmer have rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (h/t the Declaration of Independence) as well? Not according to these bozos who would claim she forfeited them by being a Democratic politician.

    • emptywheel says:

      Please let’s hold off on Woll. I really do trust that if there was a hate motivation for the killing, we’ll learn it. The death is tragic enough without premature politicization of it.

      Sometimes Detroit is still Detroit.

    • Greg Hunter says:

      “What these MAGA types and their Dominionist allies want is to impose their rules on the rest of us for our own good.”

      When I ask enough questions of the students working the Turning Point USA table at the University of Wyoming, that quote is exactly describes the underlying premise of their organization. When I realize this I tried to find common ground by stating that Gen 1:29 grants humans the right to use all herbs and seed bearing plants. The organization will not consider fighting for that particular idea as they only fight for Gen 1:28 – a misguided view on man’s dominion.

      They are intolerant.

      • Knowatall says:

        Turning Point; talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And that doesn’t even touch on the other Turning Point group that advocates for forced birth.

  9. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Trump and his lawyers pretend that no one convicted for J6 claimed (in court and under oath) they committed their crimes expressly because of Trump’s words.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      And yet Trump and the MAGA crowd want us to believe that January 6th convicts are “political prisoners!”

      • HikaakiH says:

        Lots of ‘double think’ happening amongst Trump’s faithful. It’s all about the ‘feels’ of their inner self. None of it stands any rational analysis.

        • Overt_Act says:

          It’s not “double think”, it’s “can’t think”. At this point the Republican Party in general seems to be incapable of meaningful cognition.

      • missinggeorgecarlin says:

        Don’t forget, before being “political prisoners”, they were merely “tourists”.

        It would be like me, an admitted Liberal, heading down to Key West to stroll down Duval Ave. and have a few drinks and then some jackbooted deep state thugs show up and throw me in prison for the mere crime of sightseeing.

        OT, I recall a coworker complaining re: Covid saying “Well….first it’s the vaccinations, AND THEN WHAT?!?”

        How I wish to ask “Well, what happened? Did your fears come true? I’ll tell you what happened after the vaccinations: Some lives were saved.”

  10. FL Resister says:

    Insisters on siding with Trump over 2020 election “stollen” bs are ignoring blatant facts. Ask the judges who ruled against over sixty of the fraud lore cases Powell now disavows.

    The facts reveal will take less time and treasure were the Trump Trials to be televised. So what, we give the clowns their show; more importantly, we give the legal professionals their much overdue equal time.

    • JVOJVOJVO says:

      Televised hearings and trials would also make the original source material readily available and blunt the effect (maybe even break through the silos) of the bad faith media members, imho

        • Rugger_9 says:

          I do not put it past this legal crew to blurt out claims before sustained objections. Defendant-1 would insist on it depending upon the topic.

  11. jdmckay8 says:

    I admit to finding reading of Trump’s pleadings you cite… painful. Painful in the sense that authority not just garbles right and wrong under claim of law, but obscures worst of Trump’s destructive behavior. Could be arguably said Trump’s distinguishing behavior: denigrating others and institutions, by rote. Years ago I read more then a few references accepted in psychology describing this as the lowest human behavior on the moral scale.

    The Gag Order’s carve-outs exacerbate the vagueness problems by imposing new layers of confusion upon the Order.

    Geezus. Takes some big ones to say this in defense of Trump, in court. I’m not a bible thumper but have benefited greatly from reading it over the years. The passage describing satan as “author of confusion” has often left me thinking Trump could give the devil a good run for his money on this particular transgression. Wouldn’t be surprised if Trump could convince him to send a check!!!

    I’m guessing Trump’s lawyers do not have a good-night’s-sleep high on their list of values.

    In one sense, this is typical Trump in that almost everything he does in public requires his believers to accept, and often act on these beliefs… without validation. Prove them false, and if you’re in the public sphere you will be target of his attacks.

    Sure seems to me not all that difficult for most people of fairly decent moral character to make the distinction where free speech protections end and hate speech begins… at least with people completely amoral like Trump. This stuff more or less implicitly relies upon disappearing that distinction.

    Anyway, life goes on. Thx again (and again…) for all you do.

  12. P J Evans says:

    I’m fairly sure that his lawyers and advisers knew that his 1/6 plans would incite mob violence, and told him so. He’s certainly known to enjoy the prospect of violence. So it’s very easy to believe that that was his intention with his speeches (especially his tweets) on, before, and since 1/6.

    • bloopie2 says:

      If you tell people to “make America great again” but don’t ask your supporters to do anything specific along those lines, is the statement meaningless? If you argue that it is not meaningless, then you are admitting that non-specific language can incite people to do things.

      Or something like that …

  13. Peterr says:

    In reading that motion, I was struck most by the section following the heading “The Gag Order Imposes an Impermissible Heckler’s Veto on President Trump Without Any Evidence of a Heckler.”

    The myriad of cases cited all point back to a situation where someone tries to silence a speaker, because their speech is so offensive to others that a hostile audience becomes a mob that will riot or otherwise attack the speaker. Not one of these cases, that I can see, relates to an order silencing a speaker who wants to call the mob to action against the speaker’s enemies.

    That’s kind of a big difference.

  14. harpie says:

    1/6/21 1:00 PM TRUMP’s [freedom of] SPEECH

    The Republicans have to get tougher. You’re not going to have a Republican Party if you don’t get tougher. They want to play so straight. They want to play so, sir, yes, the United States. The Constitution doesn’t allow me to send them back to the States.

    Well, I say, yes it does, because the Constitution says you have to protect our country and you have to protect our Constitution, and you can’t vote on fraud. And fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules.

    So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump is the weakest tough guy in town. He’s so tough, he’s not willing to spend ten minutes in jail, much less a decade or more to qualify as America’s Nelson Mandela. He’s a fraud in every way imaginable.

    • HikaakiH says:

      “And fraud breaks up everything, doesn’t it? When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules.”
      I wonder whether Judge Engoron will find occasion to quote those words in his judgment in Trump’s NY civil fraud case while explaining that fraud doesn’t give a right to change the rules.

  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Fee, Fum, Foe, Fie

    More than an apple of my eye:
    All the MAGA’s baked in a pie,
    standing back & standing by,
    answered my calling and let it fly.

    If I told them “do or die”,
    they’d not ask once or reason why,
    I set their vengeance so damn high,
    they let loose their battle cry.

    I just had to give them my
    Fee, fum, foe, fie,
    together with Trump’s Big Lie,
    ‘cause MAGA mobsters are not shy.

    Back made a stand & so did by,
    I hardly even had to try,
    because I’m just that kind of guy,
    Fee, fum, foe, fie.

  16. bloopie2 says:

    These two paragraphs are from a current CNN report on Iran-funded militias. Substitute the Trump-J6 fact scenario for this one, and see what you have: the same support and encouragement, the same direct connections, but without direct accountability. He operates as they do.

    “Officials said that at this point, Iran appears to be encouraging the groups rather than explicitly directing them. One official said Iran is providing guidance to the militia groups that they will not be punished – by not getting resupplied with weaponry, for example – if they continue to attack US or Israeli targets.”
    “On Monday, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said there is “a very direct connection between these groups” and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and he said the US is “deeply concerned about the potential of any significant escalation of these attacks in the days ahead.”

    Chilling. Any other analogues we can point to?

    • Overt_Act says:

      The Mukden Incident in China in the 1930s.

      On September 18, 1931, Lieutenant Suemori Kawamoto of the Independent Garrison Unit of the 29th Japanese Infantry Regiment detonated a small quantity of dynamite close to a railway line owned by Japan’s South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang). The explosion was so weak that it failed to destroy the track, and a train passed over it minutes later. The Imperial Japanese Army accused Chinese dissidents of the act and responded with a full invasion that led to the occupation of Manchuria, in which Japan established its puppet state of Manchukuo six months later.

      Essentially, junior officers, with or without the direct knowledge of their chain of command, staged a false flag operation so that warfare broke out between Japanese occupying troops and the Chinese army. The Chinese response was very weak and public opinion in Japan was inflamed. The Japanese Army and government saw a golden opportunity for conquest and invaded China.
      In 1931 radicalized individuals far from the seat of power acted autonomously and dramatically expanded scope of a simmering conflict. Current reporting indicates that Hamas did not tell the Iranian government about their planned attack, but once it caused chaos the Iranians seem very willing to support further violence.

  17. HorsewomaninPA says:

    IANAL – I am truly trying to wrap my brain around the idea that our constitution guarantees the right to lie, to manipulate others for your own ends (as long as there is no direct line from speech to violence or money is involved), to say whatever you want about a public person (without any concern for truth). I am sincerely struggling that our constitution guarantees the right of one person to say whatever he wants while the rights of the hundreds (or more) of people he has falsely accused over the last 8 years or so are taken from them.
    With every twisted filing that Trump & his defenders make, he introduces more and more complexity and confusion. His challenges to settled issues, re-opens the issue to re-examination using more falsity and fabrication and forces us to get down in the weeds and not be able to process what he is actually doing to our country because it is a firehose of b.s. (it is always about the rights of this one man – the rest of us can go to hell)
    How could our founding fathers could have possibly thought that this facilitated democracy? To me, it is the coordinated efforts of the more powerful (by virtue of access to communication channels and money) designed to subjugate the less powerful. How does this facilitate “every man is created equal”? In a democracy, don’t we need to trust the information we are given by those in power so that we can actively participate in deciding whether they should remain in power? If those in power can say anything to achieve their own ends, then it is possible to “democratically” decide that we would prefer an autocratic form of government – because the people have been led to believe that it would benefit them – in other words, the mangled idea that Trump is actually is unselfishly suffering for and representing the people is accurate.

    • bmaz says:

      What is it about the First Amendment do you not understand? Advertisers have been doing this forever, and their limitations are much more stringent than political speech.

      • HorsewomaninPA says:

        Exactly! Truth in lending, truth in advertising…no truth in political speech – for that decision, we are on our own. (which, in my opinion, is backward)

        • Midtowngirl says:

          Not just political speech, unless every Tweet and comment by Trump while President can be construed as “political speech”. He made plenty of public comments that were clearly non-political personal attacks on private citizens, and I think that copious, well-documented history should be taken into account.

          Now, as an indicted private citizen, he shouldn’t be allowed to say whatever he wants under the umbrella of protected political speech. Outing a court clerk by name, along with a photo of her, clearly showing her face, and falsely stating she was the romantic partner of a prominent Democrat that is already demonized by Trump’s followers… is clearly not political speech.

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