Judge Rules The First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Trump’s Jan. 6 Incitement

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A Colorado judge in the state judicial system there has formally ruled that former President Donald Trump engaged in insurrection in tandem with the violence on January 6, 2021, that was seen across the Capitol grounds. The judge, Sarah Wallace, was hearing the widely publicized court case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and others that sought to apply restrictions on holding office from the 14th Amendment to Trump.

That portion of the nation’s guiding legal document blocks certain individuals who engaged in insurrection from later holding a variety of positions, but Wallace declined to go as far as essentially activating the legal block that plaintiffs were pushing. (Appeals were likely to be taking shape soon after her ruling.) However, the legal record will remain of this judge establishing Trump’s involvement in insurrection, though it’s not within the federal judiciary where such emerged.

“Consequently, the Court finds that Petitioners have established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech,” Wallace wrote in her ruling. One of the final arguments she rebuffed before sharing that conclusion was the notion that perhaps similar language from Democrats should be considered exculpatory for the ex-president. The judge said that the context to remarks from Trump on January 6 itself and in the lead-up to that fateful afternoon made the critical difference.

“This argument, however, ignores both the significant history of Trump’s relationship with political violence and the noted escalation in Trump’s rhetoric in the lead up to, and on, January 6, 2021. It further disregards the distinct atmosphere of threats and calls for violence existing around the 2020 election and its legitimacy,” she said of attempts to point at Democrats. Trump continues to stand generally by participants in the chaos of January 6, repeatedly talking up the prospect of issuing pardons for such individuals if he regains the White House.