It appears Donald Trump’s rambunctious presidency is now also facing a free speech fight over accusations that he incited violance against protesters at one of the Trump rallies.
The Trump legal defence of free speech was rejected by a judge who were looking to reject a lawsuit by three protester who claimed to have been hassled by Trump supporters at a rally on March 1 2016 in Louisville Kentucky.
The plaintiffs, two women and a man claim to have been shoved and punched by audience members at Trump’s orders, much of which was captured on video and broadcast with Trump shouting to “get them out”.
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.
One party to the suit 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 the application, saying such information could be important context when determining punitive damages.
The judge did not remove allegations that Nwanguma, an African-American and who received racial, ethnic and sexist slurs from the crowd at the rally.
“While the words themselves are repulsive, they are relevant to show the atmosphere in which the alleged events occurred,” Hale wrote.
The Trump legal team argued that there should be no liability because no duty was owed to the plaintiffs who had to assume a risk of injury at the rally. But the argument didn’t make much progress with the judge, who considered that there was a need to prevent foreseeable injury, even at a Trump rally – perhaps more so.
“In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that their harm was foreseeable and that the Trump Defendants had a duty to prevent it,” the judge ruled, referring the case to a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, to handle preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts.