New York appeals court upholds gag order on Trump despite First Amendment concerns

Trump's legal team argues the order violates the former president's rights and hinders his 2024 presidential campaign.

New York appeals court upholds gag order on Trump despite First Amendment concerns
Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool
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The New York Court of Appeals rejected former President Donald Trump's request to lift the gag order imposed on him by Judge Juan Merchan, stating that "no substantial constitutional question is directly involved." 

The gag order, put in place during Trump's recent trial, restricts him from speaking about witnesses and the case itself, Fox News reports.

Trump's lawyers appealed the decision, citing the upcoming November presidential election, the first debate against President Biden, and the First Amendment rights of both Trump and his supporters. However, the appeals court denied their request on Tuesday.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung criticized the gag order, calling it "unconstitutional" and claiming that it "wrongfully silences the leading candidate for President of the United States." Cheung also pointed out that the order only applies to Trump and not to his political opponents or critics.

The gag order stems from Trump's recent trial, in which he was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges were brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and the trial lasted six weeks.

Trump's legal team, led by Todd Blanche, argued that with the trial concluded, the justifications for the gag order no longer exist. 

They emphasized the importance of unrestricted campaign advocacy, especially in light of comments made by President Biden and his campaign, as well as ongoing public attacks from witnesses like Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.

During the trial, Trump was fined $10,000 for violating the gag order, and Judge Merchan threatened him with jail time for any further violations. 

The judge acknowledged the gravity of his decision, considering Trump's status as a former president and potential future president.

Trump and his attorneys maintain that the gag order violates his First Amendment rights and the rights of his supporters. The former president's sentencing is scheduled for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where he is expected to be formally nominated as the party's 2024 presidential candidate.

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