On March 31, a judge ruled that President Donald Trump incited violence during a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky.
Plaintiffs Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau say they were shoved and punched by audience members at Trump's command to "Get 'em out of here," notes the Daily Mail.
Matthew Heimbach, who was representing the Traditionalist Workers Party, and Alvin Bamberger attacked the protesters, according to the ruling, reports CNN.
In the lawsuit, Nwanguma, Shah and Brousseau accuse Heimbach and Bamberger of assault and battery, and charge the Trump campaign of incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness.
Trump's lawyers sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that he didn't intend for his supporters to use force, and that his command was free speech. They furthermore contended that Trump was addressing his security personnel, not audience members.
However, U.S. District Judge David J. Hale in Louisville ruled March 31 that the suit can proceed, declaring that the physical action taken against the protesters was a "direct and proximate result" of Trump's actions, while noting that speech that incites violence is not protected, according to a Supreme Court precedent.
In the 1969 case Brandenburg vs. Ohio, the Supreme Court decided that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
In Hale's opinion, Trump's direction to "get 'em out of here" did in fact incite violence. "It was an order, an instruction, a command" that "at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action," he wrote.
He also dismissed the argument that Trump's command was intended for his security personnel. "Presumably if he had intended for protesters to be escorted out by security personnel, Trump would have instructed the intervening audience members to stop what they were doing, rather than offering guidance on how to go about it," he wrote, adding that no security personnel "intervened during the assault."
Concluding, Hale wrote: "In sum, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that their harm was foreseeable and that the Trump Defendants had a duty to prevent it."
As a result of the decision, the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed.