Suing the President for First Amendment Violations

27 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2018

See all articles by Sonja West

Sonja West

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: August 31, 2018

Abstract

On any given day, it seems, President Donald Trump can be found attacking, threatening, or punishing the press and other individuals whose speech he dislikes. His actions, moreover, inevitably raise the question: Do any of these individuals or organizations (or any future ones) have a viable claim against the President for violating their First Amendment rights?

One might think that the ability to sue the President for violation of the First Amendment would be relatively settled. The answer, however, is not quite that straightforward. Due to several unique qualities about the First Amendment and the presidency, it is not entirely clear if or how citizens can hold the President responsible for violating their expressive rights.

This Essay explores some of the potential obstacles facing a person or organization bringing a First Amendment lawsuit against the President such as whether the President can violate the First Amendment at all and how a plaintiff might recover for that violation. It concludes by suggesting a few possible approaches to this problem that could help clarify and secure the rights of all Americans to seek justice—even against the President—if their freedoms of speech and press are violated.

Keywords: free speech, First Amendment, constitutional law, press, media, President, Donald Trump, newspapers, television, news, damages, immunity, Section 1983

JEL Classification: K13, K19

Suggested Citation

West, Sonja, Suing the President for First Amendment Violations (August 31, 2018). Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 71, 2018; University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3240597

Sonja West (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States
(706) 542-5145 (Phone)
(706) 542-5556 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uga.edu/academics/profiles/west.html

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