President Trump and the First Amendment: What You Need To Know
Donald Trump is no stranger to lawsuits. In fact, a 2016 study by USA TODAY identified more than 4,000 lawsuits filed by or against Donald Trump and his companies, and 7 of those were speech-related suits filed by Trump or his companies.
Commenting on one of those speech-related lawsuits, Trump bragged, "I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about." In the case to which he was referring, Trump v. O'Brien, 29 A.3d 1090, 1092 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2011), Trump demanded $6 billion in damages from book author and publishers who alleged that he was "only" worth between $150 million to $250 million.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michele M. Fox grated a motion for summary judgment because there was no actual malice in the case.
Had a strong anti-SLAPP law been on the books in New Jersey, the defendants could have potentially had the case dismissed as a SLAPP and recouped their attorneys' fees.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump noted that he wanted to 'open up' our libel laws:
One of the things I'm going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we're certainly leading. I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected...You see, with me, they're not protected, because I'm not like other people but I'm not taking money. I'm not taking their money ... We're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before.
Now that he's actually president, the Public Participation Project will be tracking President Trump's statements and actions that affect the First Amendment rights of all Americans.