Donald Trump continued his war on the First Amendment by declaring that freedom of the press may come to an end if he is elected president.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 26, 2016
We don’t know if Trump has actually read the U.S. Constitution, but we do know that he has made periodic attacks on the First Amendment. On October 23rd, he delivered another one, with little coverage (full interview here):
Jim DeFede: In the past, you’ve talked about wanting to amend laws and rework things to make it easier to sue. Do you think that there is too much protection allowed in the First Amendment?
Donald Trump: Well, in England, they have a system where you can actually sue if somebody says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it. And I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong — I’m a big believer, tremendous believer, in the freedom of the press, nobody believes it stronger than me — but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people, and I’m not just talking about me, I’m talking anybody else, then yes, I think they should be, you should have the ability to sue them.
DeFede: You’d like to see the laws closer to what they have in England?
Trump: In England, you have a good chance of winning if they — and deals are made and apologies are made. Over here, they don’t have to apologize. They can say anything they want about you or me and there doesn’t have to be any apology. England has a system where, if they’re wrong, things happen.
In fact, you actually can sue for intentionally injurious libel in the United States. The key difference between U.S. and British libel laws is that the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff in the U.S. and with the defendant in the U.K. — instead of plaintiffs having to prove that you lied, defendants must prove they told the truth. That difference is striking enough that in 2010, a law to deny recognition of defamation judgments from foreign courts was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress.
Trump has already demonstrated an aptitude for chilling criticism by abusing current law. If anyone still needed a reason to get out and vote, there are few better than preventing Donald Trump from turning his vendetta against the press into U.S. law.