144 constitutional lawyers call Trump's First Amendment defense 'legally frivolous'
February 8, 2021
WASHINGTON – Claims by former President Donald Trump's lawyers that his conduct around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is shielded by the First Amendment are "legally frivolous" and should do nothing to stop the Senate from convicting him in his impeachment trial, 144 leading First Amendment lawyers and constitutional scholars from across the political spectrum wrote in a letter circulated Friday.
Taking aim at one of the key planks of Trump's defense, the lawyers argued that the constitutional protections do not apply to an impeachment proceeding, were never meant to protect conduct like Trump's anyway and would most likely fail to shield him even in a criminal court.
"Although we differ from one another in our politics, disagree on many questions of constitutional law, and take different approaches to understanding the Constitution's text, history, and context, we all agree that any First Amendment defense raised by President Trump's attorneys would be legally frivolous," the group wrote. "In other words, we all agree that the First Amendment does not prevent the Senate from convicting President Trump and disqualifying him from holding future office."