Gag orders against Trump target free speech protections that workers need

By Terry Evans
October 30, 2023

The relentless drive by the Democrats and politically motivated prosecutors and judges to bar Donald Trump from running for president includes a growing number of court-imposed gag orders aimed at shutting him up. Whoever they target today, it is workers and the struggles of our class that will be in the dock tomorrow.

It is in the class interests of all working people to oppose government assaults on free speech, assembly and other constitutional freedoms. That’s true whether the target is the Republican’s presidential nominee; striking New Jersey nurses facing court restrictions on picketing; or a Socialist Workers Party candidate facing discriminatory restrictions on ballot access.

Desperate to find any means to jail Trump, liberals hailed the ban imposed on Trump by New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron Oct. 3. That order was issued after Engoron ruled Trump was guilty on most charges without even a trial.

Trump had made comments about Allison Greenfield, Engoron’s clerk. “The only one that hates Trump more is his [Engoron’s] associate. … She’s screaming in his ear almost every time we ask a question,” Trump had said. He posted and then withdrew some salacious gossip about Greenfield. The judge responded with the gag order, threatening 30 days in jail if Trump said anything more about any member of his staff.

Finding some comments distasteful is no grounds for an attack on free speech.

An appeals court has put a temporary halt on Engoron’s order lifting Trump’s license to sell real estate in New York State.

Trump is facing four court cases —federal cases in Florida and Washington, D.C., as well as state charges in New York and Georgia. Jack Smith, special counsel for the Biden administration’s Justice Department, has charged Trump with “conspiracy” to “defraud the U.S.,” based on his challenges to the 2020 election results.

Trump’s lawyers requested the case be dismissed Oct. 5. Their motion charges the case violates constitutional protections against double jeopardy, indicting Trump a second time for the same charges arising from the Jan. 6 riot that a Senate impeachment proceeding had already thrown out.

That trial is set to start just before the Super Tuesday primary elections in March.

Smith succeeded in getting federal Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose a gag order on Trump in this case Oct. 16. Chutkan claimed that Trump “does not have the right to say and do exactly what he pleases.” Allowing him to speak freely would be “a danger to the administration of justice.” Chutkan said Trump’s complaining about Washington, D.C., and his remarks that Smith is “deranged” and a “thug” are examples of things he can no longer say.

Under the order almost everyone else, including Trump’s opponent, President Joseph Biden, will be free to discuss the case. But Trump would be unable to make comments about Michael Pence, one of his opponents in the Republican primaries, because Pence is a potential witness. Chutkan has the power to throw the former president in prison if he says anything she finds violates her order.

Trump says he’ll appeal Chutkan’s ruling. He has also been slapped with a gag order in a New York trial over alleged hush money payments. This case is projected to run through the entire presidential campaign.

Liberals lead assault on free speech

Politically motivated attacks on free speech are spreading today, especially by ‘woke’ guardians of political correctness.

One example was the decision by Colorado school officials to remove seventh grader Jaiden Rodriguez from class in August because he wore a backpack bearing a picture of a coiled snake with the slogan, “Don’t Tread On Me.” Vanguard Secondary School counselor Nicole Longhoffer insisted the symbol must not be “around other kids,” falsely claiming it has its “origins in slavery.” In fact the flag became a symbol of resistance during the Revolutionary War, which led to the United States winning its independence.

Rodriguez’s parents fought the school ruling and got it overturned.

The revolutionary working-class movement stands in the forefront of all attempts to restrict constitutional rights. When New York City authorities banned a Nazi rally in 1960, Socialist Workers Party leader James P. Cannon said, “People who demand free speech and constitutional rights for themselves, but want to deny it for others do not get much public sympathy when their own rights are denied.”

“Our line is free speech,” Cannon said. “We have to fight for it and convince other people we mean it. With truth on our side we have the most to gain by freedom of discussion and most to lose by its suppression.”