A federal appeals court on Tuesday tossed out a lawsuit that claimed President Trump incited a riot when he ordered three protesters to be removed from a rally in Kentucky during the 2016 presidential campaign.
A three-judge panel on the 6 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the three demonstrators didn’t state a valid claim under state law and found Trump’s comments were protected by the First Amendment, since he “did not specifically advocate imminent lawless action.”
“In the ears of some supporters, Trump’s words may have had a tendency to elicit a physical response, in the event a disruptive protester refused to leave, but they did not specifically advocate such a response,” Judge David McKeague wrote in an opinion. “As to how the offensive words were said, we know, most relevantly, by plaintiffs’ own allegations, that the words were accompanied by the admonition, ‘Don’t hurt ’em.’ That this undercuts the alleged violence-inciting sense of Trump’s words can hardly be denied.”
The allegations from Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah, and Henry Brousseau stemmed from a March 2016 campaign rally in Louisville, Ky., which they attended with the goal of protesting. Their actions led Trump to say on multiple occasions, “Get ‘em out of here.”
According to court filings, the three protesters were “assaulted, pushed and shoved” by members of the audience as they were ejected from the event.
The demonstrators filed their complaint several weeks later, and cited Trump, the Trump campaign, and three audience members.
They alleged Trump’s actions were “inciting to riot,” a misdemeanor under Kentucky law. A lower court denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the incitement to riot claim.