Even prior to Donald Trump’s election, we were told that Trump is entitled to say whatever he wants under the protection of the First Amendment. Now that he is president, we have seen numerous newspapers publish his list of statements that have been proven to be false.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Rod Rosenstein, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Mr. Rosenstein about Trump’s tweets accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping. Mr. Rosenstein’s response included a statement, “If the president is exercising his First Amendment rights, that’s not my issue.”
Shouldn’t it be someone’s issue? The First Amendment has restrictions. Professionals are held to a higher standard by the courts. The Securities and Exchange Commission goes after publicly-traded companies for making false or misleading statements (37 CFR 240.14A-9).
In Pickering v. Board of Ed. Of Township High School Dist. 205, Will Cty., 391 U.S. 563 (1968) the court stated that a public employee’s First Amendment rights could be restrained if the person’s statement are shown to be reckless or false.
The defamation law has always been an exception to the First Amendment. Falsely claiming someone is a criminal, as Trump did with his tweet about the Obama wire, seems like it violates this law.
In any case, shouldn’t the President of the United States be held to a higher standard than the general public?
Mark Pinsley, Allentown, Pennsylvania