The Justice Department has asked a federal court to let a group of police officers and members of Congress proceed with a damages claim against former President Donald Trump for his role in instigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
In December, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeal heard arguments over whether the lawsuit, brought by two police officers and 11 Democratic congressmen against the twice-indicted ex-president, should be allowed because of the immunity that Mr. Trump during his tenure at the top of the executive branch, continue or be fired.
Plaintiffs in that case have asked a court to hold Mr Trump liable for physical and mental injuries suffered during the riots by a pro-Trump mob who intend to keep him in office by certifying his 2020 election loss prevented against Joe Biden.
The DC Circuit Panel asked the Justice Department to consider whether the government believes that the president’s immunity should protect him from inciting an insurrection because he was in office at the time.
In a brief filed with the court on Thursday, Justice Department lawyers said the immunity did not extend to Mr Trump’s actions before the riot because they were not part of his official duties as president.
“Speaking to the public on matters of public interest is a traditional function of the presidency, and the outer perimeter of the president’s office includes a large area for such speaking,” they said. “But that traditional function is that of public communication. It does not include incitement to the threat of private violence.”
They asked the court to look at a 1969 ruling that involved the Ku Klux Klan. Brandenburg vs. Ohio, as a guide to whether Mr Trump’s admonitions to the crowd of his supporters he was urging to “fight like hell” should be protected.
Quote Brandenburg, They argued that Mr. Trump’s remarks fall outside the First Amendment guarantees of free speech because they “are intended to incite or induce immediate lawless acts” or are “likely to incite or induce such acts.”
“Just as denying First Amendment protections on incitement does not unduly chill speech in general, denying absolute immunity from incitement to the threat of private violence should help the President carry out his traditional function of communicating with the public on matters of public interest to speak, not unduly deterred. ” Said.