Trump Adds To His Anti-First Amendment Legacy In Threatening To Sue Clinton For Campaign Ads
from the have-you-read-the-bill-of-rights dept
Donald Trump keeps insisting that he’s a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but he appears to have skipped right past the 1st Amendment. We’ve discussed his stated plans to “open up” libel laws and his regular threats to sue newspapers for reporting on him in ways he dislikes. Trevor Timm, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, recently tried to count how many times Trump had threatened to sue the media since his campaign began (ignoring all the threats from before the campaign). Turns out it’s difficult to count them all:
I had intended to quantify how many journalists or news commentators Trump has threatened to sue over his lifetime, but that quickly turned into a fool?s errand. A simple Google search of ?Trump threatens to sue? will return an overwhelming number of stories. In the past decade alone, he?s sued a former Times journalist who wrote a book about him that he later admitted he didn?t even read; he?s threatened to sue former View host Rosie O?Donnell for allegations that have been shown over and over again during this campaign to be correct; he?s sued HBO?s Bill Maher over a joke bet that involved proving he was not, in fact, born an orangutan.
He threatened to sue a journalist at the Village Voice as far back as 1979, and he actually sued a newspaper as early as 1984: the Chicago Tribune, for calling building plans of his ?aesthetically lousy.? My personal favorite was his threat to sue The Onion, the popular satirical news site.
He also left out the non-journalists that Trump has similarly threatened with lawsuits — including some of the competitors for the Republican Presidential nomination:
I did not count the nine news organizations Melania Trump, the Republican candidate?s wife, also threatened to sue, nor the Daily Mail along with a small blogger, both of whom she actually sued in September for publishing stories containing rumors about her past.
Nor did I count when Trump threatened to sue an artist for creating a hilariously unflattering portrait of him, a conservative group called Club For Growth for running campaign ads that Trump did not like, former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz for running negative ads against him, or former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich and a Super PAC supporting Kasich for the same?all of which would have serious First Amendment implications. Another time, he seemed to threaten Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with tax audits for owning The Washington Post, which has been critical of Trump. I?m not including this in my count either.
You can then read the still quite long list of examples that Timm did eventually count.
But apparently Trump isn’t done threatening to sue his election opponents over protected speech either. He’s now moved on and is threatening to sue the Clinton campaign over the “nasty” ads they’re running against him:
?And then I saw today … a commercial where ? it was really a nasty commercial, totally made up, about me with vets,? Trump said.
?There is nobody that loves the vets more or respects the vets more. They?re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on false commercials, and it?s a disgrace. So what we?ll do, I guess we?ll sue them. Let?s sue them.?
“I guess we’ll sue them. Let’s sue them.” Remember, again, that Trump has happily admitted in the past to filing bogus defamation lawsuits because he knows it will cost a lot to defend against them. It’s one thing to be thin-skinned. It’s another to continue to trample on the First Amendment while running to be the person in charge of upholding it.