Court Pauses Order Restricting Trump’s Speech About Federal Election Case
HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally at Trendsetter Engineering Inc. on November 02, 2023 in Houston, Texas. Former President Trump's visit to Houston marks his second stop in Texas since earlier this year. The visit comes as his sons Don Jr. and Eric testified at his civil fraud in New York trial today. Trump may be forced to sell off his properties after a judge ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire.
Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images.

A gag order against former President Donald Trump related to his federal 2020 election case has been paused by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals after Trump filed an emergency request on Thursday saying the order violated his First Amendment rights. 

The court issued an administrative stay, saying that the decision was made to give the judges more time to hear Trump’s arguments. The court said that the ruling “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, had imposed the gag order on Trump Sunday night after Trump criticized former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Chutkan is overseeing special counsel Jack Smith’s federal election case against Trump, who has denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

In their request to pause the order on Thursday, lawyers for Trump said that “[n]o court in American history has imposed a gag order on a criminal defendant who is actively campaigning for public office — let alone the leading candidate for president of the United States.”

“The prosecution’s request for a Gag Order bristles with hostility to President Trump’s viewpoint and his relentless criticism of the government — including of the prosecution itself,” the request said. “The Gag Order embodies this unconstitutional hostility to President Trump’s viewpoint. It should be immediately stayed.”

In her decision to reimpose the gag order on Sunday, Chutkan claimed that Trump’s First Amendment rights must be limited because of the ongoing trial. 

“As this court has explained, the First Amendment rights of participants in criminal proceedings must yield, when necessary, to the orderly administration of justice,” she said, adding later, “And contrary to Defendant’s argument, the right to a fair trial is not his alone, but belongs also to the government and the public.”


Chutkan issued a narrow gag order against Trump in October, restricting him from chastising prosecutors, court staff, and potential witnesses. The judge temporarily lifted the gag order at the request of Trump’s lawyers while they pursued an appeal.

Prosecutors soon urged her to reinstate the order, saying Trump went back to the sort of “targeting” it would prevent. As examples, the filing cited an “unmistakable and threatening message” on social media about Meadows possibly testifying in exchange for immunity against prosecution and comments he made about his former chief of staff to reporters in New York. Trump also called Smith “deranged.”

On Tuesday, the Trump team will have the opportunity to make their case against the gag order.

Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report. 

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