Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Pauses Trump Gag Order

Photo edit of President Donald J. Trump. Credit: Alexander J. Williams III/Pop Acta.
Photo edit of President Donald J. Trump. Credit: Alexander J. Williams III/Pop Acta.

A federal appeals court temporarily paused the gag order against former President Donald Trump in his 2020 election case on Friday.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia temporarily paused the order issued Oct. 17 by District Judge Tanya Chutkan to allow time to consider Trump’s request for a longer freeze on its enforcement pending appeal. The court ordered Trump’s appeal to be expedited, requesting briefing from Trump’s legal team by Nov. 8 and scheduling oral arguments for Nov. 20.

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for a stay pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” the appeals court wrote in its order.

Trump’s appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel that includes Obama-appointed Judges Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard and Biden-appointed Judge Bradley Garcia.

Chutkan’s gag order, which she issued at the request of Special Counsel Jack Smith, blocks the former president from making public statements “targeting” Smith or his staff, the defense counsel or their staff, court staff and witnesses.

Trump asked the appeals court Thursday night to pause Chutkan’s order, calling it a “sweeping, viewpoint-based prior restraint on the core political speech of a major Presidential candidate.”

“The Gag Order silences public criticism of quintessential public figures—speech entitled to the highest level of First Amendment protection,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “The Special Prosecutor and his team are high-level government officials who volunteered for highest-profile criminal case in modern history, and thus ‘thrust’ themselves ‘into the vortex of this public issue.’”

Trump’s appeal notes that “no court in American history has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is actively campaigning for public office.”

Katelynn Richardson on November 3, 2023

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