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.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Trump Adds To His Anti-First Amendment Legacy In Threatening To Sue Clinton For Campaign Ads”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not a License to Commit Offenses

There’s a much higher standard to meet for celebrities like Trump when suing for slander.

Throw in the fact that it happened during a presidential campaign, and I’d say he stands zero chance of ever winning.

Plus, there’s a reason why campaigns never sue each other for lies, 1) the lawsuit would never be settled till after the campaign, and 2) the lawsuit would just bring more attention to the lies.

Kalean says:

Re: Re:

Techdirt has become a strong advocate for First and Fourth Amendment protections, as well as Police Accountability, due to the overwhelming amount these subjects have encroached on their normally covered territory.

They call deserving parties out on First Amendment ignorance frequently, including calling Trump and Hillary out before they were running; I see no reason it should stop because the election is getting closer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Techdirt has become a strong advocate for First and Fourth Amendment protections…

Agree, TD has been a pretty decent advocate for constitutional issues of late.

But I still have not quite forgotten he anti-1st Amendment rant TD had about the Redskins and the USPTO bullshit. TD needs to keep up the good work though, as flawed as it may be it still does better than most others.

DannyB (profile) says:

Can SLAPP lawsuits be used?

Trump has happily admitted in the past to filing bogus defamation lawsuits because he knows it will cost a lot to defend against them

Can SLAPP lawsuits be used?

Or here is an approach that I bet would not scale well for Trump. Whenever Trump issues a threat or actual lawsuit for something he doesn’t like, if the party can afford to, sue/countersue Trump asking the court for a declaration of non slander.

Trump would have to defend against the swarm of counter suits. And maybe he’s not so rich as he pretends to be. The wealth, like almost everything else may simply be a can man’s illusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The thing is though is that they’re editing his words completely out of context to paint this completely bogus narrative.

I figure TD would at least fact check all of their sources and citations but apparently they don’t since more than a few are completely made up stories while some of them are the result of people attempting to extort him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not to mention, TD did an article on defaming people by using their own words out of context:

So TD, since it’s Trump, it’s okay to defame him? Typical far Leftist logic would say ‘yes’ and that everything is legal unless you hold a dissenting point of view that conflicts with their interests…

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

To which you prefer gratuitous accusations.
Nice job here. /s

Seriously, comments are here – amongst other things – for constructive criticism. And TD has already proved that it takes it quite well.

Now, if you don’t want to prove your own accusations, don’t be surprised if you don’t get much sympathy. Saying things like “you’re wrong and I don’t need to prove it” is one of the worst reply you can make.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Some would say that is partially true since you can’t run a manufacturing plant off of solar or wind (both of which need to be manufactured using fossil fuels) and still remain competitive to others. It really is as if they’re trying to turn fossil fuels into a commodity that is exclusive to manufacturing but you can’t create manufacturing plants in a country that’s attempting to outlaw the use of fossil fuels or is trying to impose a carbon tax so high that it would be pointless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not to mention, the US has the absolute worst ‘legal minefield’ when it comes to anyone attempting to start a manufacturing business here no thanks to endless regulations imposed by multinational corporations and their armies of attorneys ripping out and creating their own laws (at the State level all the way to Federal level) so as to make us all as feeble as possible…

Which is why nobody is outsourcing any jobs to the US when it comes to just about anything and everything…Except for maybe small time niche markets.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Re-read what I said…of course they’re in favor of more regulations, why do you think the manufacturing strength of the US is on a death spiral?

Sorry, but building ‘500 million’ solar panels as Hillery has promoted (despite the fact that the manufacturing process consists of releasing mass amounts of the most potent GHG in existence, sulfur hexafluoride aka SF6: is not going to build any new jobs if the entire manufacturing process relies on fossil fuels that are being taxed to death and/or outlawed on the basis of the hypothesis of catastrophic anthropocentric global warming (CAWG) which has never been validated in any of the IPCC reports nor has been elevated to theory since it has never confirmed as to the exact extent to which humans have an effect on the climate.

FFS, meteorologist can’t make a sound prediction past 72 hours without the level of certainty dropping to the toss of a coin. 50/50

And we’re basing a global western policy on a hypothesis that could potentially destroy us?

And before you go off and start citing the anti-science claim of 96%, go research what the actual questions were, who participated, how many, and then come back with me with a list of names…oh that’s right, they don’t list the names.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

FFS, even the Rockefellers’, the family who created the oil industry, is completely invested in these so-called green energies and they initially started out selling snake oil and Exxon mobile is descendants of them…so no, obviously the oil industry has nothing to do with all of the skepticism if they’re the ones that are most invested into it:

So don’t even try to say I’m a shill for big oil.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Wow, that sure is a wall of wrong, but I’ll start with the low-hanging fruit:

FFS, meteorologist can’t make a sound prediction past 72 hours without the level of certainty dropping to the toss of a coin.

You didn’t die today; does that mean that if somebody says “you’re eventually going to die” they must not know what they’re talking about?

Climate is not weather. Don’t be stupid. Long-term trends produce more reliable predictions than short-term ones; that’s basic fucking statistics.

I can’t predict when you’re going to die. But I can predict with absolute certainty that it’s going to happen within the next 100 years.

Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow and maybe it won’t. But it’s hotter this year than it was last year, or the year before, or the year before, or any other time on record.

sorrykb (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

FFS, meteorologist can’t make a sound prediction past 72 hours without the level of certainty dropping to the toss of a coin. 50/50

Weather and climate are not the same thing. Rather than filling this space with reasons why, I’ll just link to a very short article written in layman’s terms that answers your question.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.


you can’t run a manufacturing plant off of solar or wind .. and still remain competitive


I think this claim needs additional data, otherwise it is complete bunk.

Norahc (profile) says:

Let's face it

Let’s face it…the only part of the Constitution that either candidate really cares about is the minimum requirements to get elected. Everything else, especially the Bill of Rights needs to be modified in their opinions. The War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the War on Encryption, or even the War Against Butthurt will serve as their justification to further erode what little Rights we have remaining.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

That depends on what you mean by “require”, and whose authority you’re accepting in determining whether something is “truthful” or “half or less truth”.

The devil’s in the details. I think most people agree with the basic premise of truth in advertising, but how that’s actually evaluated and enforced is a pretty complex and often subjective issue.

As for regulating what politicians put in their speeches, I’m not sure how you’d do that without serious First Amendment concerns.

rick... says:


i really enjoy reading the articles on this site for the most part. Why ruin it by joining in on the trump bashing band wagon? Just keep it neutral, or leave it alone all together. Trump this and Trump that….. PLEASE, get off Hillary’s lap. I imagine it’s getting real crowded with all the other lapdogs currently there….

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...