During his presidential campaign, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump told his supporters to "Get 'em out of here" after protesters joined the March 1, 2016 rally in Louisville, Kentucky. Three of the protesters claimed they were assaulted.
That may count as inciting violence, a judge ruled late Friday. The (Louisville) Courier-Journal reported three men were caught on camera shoving protester Kashiya Nwanguma. She and two other protesters sued for unspecified monetary damages, claiming Trump incited the violence.
Trump's lawyer, R. Kent Westberry, argued the three men who assaulted the protesters were acting on their own initiative. One of the men, Matthew Heimbach, is a leader in the white supremacist group Traditional Youth Network. Westberry also argued that Trump's political speech was protected by the First Amendment.
However, U.S. District Judge David J. Hale pointed out that the assault did not begin until Trump said, "Get 'em out of here." He added that speech that incites violence is not protected.
It is plausible that Trump's direction ... advocated the use of force. It was an order, an instruction, a command.
Hale also pointed out that Trump said afterwards, "Don't hurt 'em. If I say 'Go get 'em', I get in trouble with the press." The bulk of the case's claims would proceed as normal, though a claim that Trump was liable for the violence was dropped.
It's not the first time Trump's campaign language has caused legal difficulties. His travel ban has been twice rejected by judges who pointed to his campaign promise of a "Muslim ban."