NY Judge Apparently Unaware Of The Supreme Court's Ban On Prior Restraint: Puts Temporary Restraining Order On Trump's Niece's Book

from the that-won't-last dept

Last week, we wrote about the president's brother, Robert Trump, suing his (and the president's) niece, Mary Trump to try to block her from publishing her new book that criticizes the president. The initial filing to block the publication failed for being in the wrong court, but the follow up attempt has succeeded, at least temporarily. NY Supreme Court (despite the name, this is the equivalent of the district court in NY) Judge Hal Greenwald doesn't seem to have even bothered to do even a cursory 1st Amendment analysis regarding prior restraint, but agreed to rush out a temporary restraining order, while ordering the the parties to brief the matter before July 10th on whether or not the ban should be made permanent.

This is not how this works. As Walter Sobchek famously explained: "the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint." Or, as 1st Amendment lawyer Ken "Popehat" White notes:

Mary Trump's lawyer, Ted Boutrous (who knows this stuff better than you do) says that they'll be appealing. According to the Courthouse News link above:

“The trial court’s temporary restraining order is only temporary, but it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment,” Theodore Boutrous, an attorney for Mary Trump with the firm Gibson Dunn, said in a statement. “We will immediately appeal. This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in election year, should not be suppressed even for one day.”

The lawyer for Robert Trump, Charles Harder (who, yes, once was the lawyer in a case against us), did his usual song-and-dance as well:

“The actions of Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster are truly reprehensible,” Harder said, referring to the book’s publisher.

Publishing a book that reveals important public information about the President of the United States is the opposite of reprehensible. What is "reprehensible" is abusing the law to file censorious SLAPP lawsuits on behalf of the rich and powerful.

He went on:

“We look forward to vigorously litigating this case and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump’s breach of contract and Simon & Schuster’s intentional interference with that contract,” Harder added. “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end.”

Harder and Robert Trump will lose this case and the book will be published. The 1st Amendment and free speech will win, no matter how many times Harder seeks to deny such basic rights to people.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, book, charles harder, donald trump, mary trump, prior restraint, robert trump, ted boutrous, temporary restraining order
Companies: simon & schuster


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  1. icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 1 Jul 2020 @ 9:04pm

    That may apply to THAT time…

    …but only the most unscrupulous lawyers try to trick a
    court into turning it into prior restraint decades later
    by trying to reinterpret it as a lifetime ban on future
    speech in the absence of explicit wording making it apply
    for the lifetime of the speaker.


    As no court will go along with such a ploy without that
    specific wording [or words to that effect] agreed to at
    that time, the lawyers gamble on finding a pro-Trump judge
    to buy time until a appeals sets things right again.

    Everything about this case indicates a plan to delay until
    they lose, hopefully long enough for the election.


    If it becomes obvious, those lawyers would be in trouble;
    so expect them to "no comment" whenever confronted on that.


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