1st Amendment Defense Fails: Judge Denies Trump's Motion in Georgia Case

1st Amendment Defense Fails: Judge Denies Trump’s Motion in Georgia Case

On Thursday, a court in Fulton County refused a motion made by the former president of the United States and a number of his co-defendants, who wanted the Georgia election tampering case dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

Part of the argument put forth by Trump and others was that their First Amendment right to contest the results of the 2020 presidential election was violated by the Fulton County indictment.

Judge Scott McAfee stated in his judgment rejecting the motion that “Even core political speech addressing matters of public concern is not impenetrable from prosecution if allegedly used to further criminal activity.”

In his decision, the judge stated that the charge contained more than just political claims.

“The State has alleged more than mere expressions of a political nature,” the judge stated. “Rather, the indictment charges the Defendants with knowingly and willfully making false statements to public officers and knowingly and willfully filing documents containing false statements and misrepresentations within the jurisdiction of state departments and agencies.”

Furthermore, according to McAfee, he could not locate “any authority that the speech and conduct alleged is protected political speech.”

The protection provided by the First Amendment’s Petition Clause, which permits communication with public officials, “does not extend to allegedly fraudulent petitions,” according to McAfee.

“In other words, the law does not insulate speech allegedly made during fraudulent or criminal conduct from prosecution under the guise of petitioning the government,” he stated.

Though they “respectfully disagree” with the decision, Trump’s lawyer Steve Sadow said in a statement that McAfee would allow them to bring up the matter later.

“It is significant that the court’s ruling was without prejudice, as it made clear that defendants were not foreclosed from again raising their ‘as-applied’ challenges at the appropriate time after the establishment of a factual record,” Sadow stated.

In August of last year, Trump and eighteen other defendants entered not guilty pleas to all counts in a broad racketeering indictment pertaining to purported attempts to rig the 2020 Georgia presidential election results.

After that, four co-defendants accepted plea agreements in return for consenting to testify against other defendants. The district attorney’s probe has drawn criticism from the former president for having a political motivation.