President Trump doesn’t have much of a filter. And his comments on the campaign trail just added another legal challenge to his plate.
A federal judge in Kentucky ruled Friday that a lawsuit accusing Trump of inciting violence against protesters at a campaign rally last March can move forward. Trump’s lawyers tried to get the case thrown out by arguing the president’s comments were free speech, but in his opinion, the judge noted that the First Amendment doesn’t protect incitement to commit violence.
During the March 2016 rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, three anti-Trump protesters — two women and a teenage boy — claim they were shoved and punched after Trump repeatedly directed his supporters from the podium to “get ‘em out of here.”
The incident, caught on video, went viral, and a little more than a month later, the protesters — Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau — sued Trump for damages. Trump’s lawyers, however, argued that the then-presidential candidate didn’t intend to provoke violence. In his opinion Friday, U.S. district Judge David Hale disagreed.
“It is plausible that Trump’s direction to ‘get ’em out of here’ advocated the use of force,” the judge wrote. “It was an order, an instruction, a command.” Hale also noted “ample” factual support exists for the protesters’ claim that injuries were “a direct and proximate result” of the Trump’s actions.
The protesters’ lawsuit isn’t the first time Trump’s outspokenness has landed him in trouble with the courts. Judges who rejected both Trump’s first and second executive orders limiting travel from Muslim-majority countries cited comments he made on the campaign trail as evidence of the policies’ discrimination against certain religions.
Aside from Trump, two of his supporters are named in the suit as well: Alvin Bamberger and Matthew Heimbach. Bamberger, a veteran from Ohio, has reportedly expressed remorse over shoving the woman suing. On the other hand, Heimbach currently leads a white supremacist organization called the Traditional Youth Network and started the White Student Union on Towson University’s campus. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him the “face of a new generations of white nationalists.”