Blackburn Releases Impeachment Trial Questions for President Trump’s Counsel

February 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  In advance of the question-and-answer phase of the impeachment trial, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn released a list of questions for President Trump’s counsel. Her questions seek clarity on the standards of speech amid mistrust and violence that Americans would like to move beyond.

Questions for the President’s Counsel:

  • What is deficient in the House Managers’ standard for constitutionally prohibited speech, and what speech is actually prohibited under the First Amendment?
  • What type of speech may politicians and elected officials make under the Constitution, and is this standard any different for average citizens? Do average citizens have more, the same, or less free speech rights than politicians and elected officials?
  • What principles did the Founders consider in drafting the First Amendment, and how did restrictions under British colonial rule shape the Constitution’s safeguards for free speech?
  • What is considered protected free speech under the First Amendment, and what standard for liability—criminal or civil—should control in a presidential impeachment trial?
  • What did the Supreme Court in Brandenberg v. Ohio establish as the controlling standard for instances when the government can punish inflammatory speech?
  • Please provide specific real-life quotes and examples of constitutionally prohibited speech that is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
  • How can an excessively restrictive rule on controversial political speech be harmful to debate and discourse in our democracy and ultimately chill fundamental freedoms of expression?
  • The First Amendment protects multiple speech-related freedoms crucial to the functioning of American democracy. How does an overly restrictive rule on freedom of speech affect freedom of the press and freedom of assembly?
  • When the standard for impeachable conduct is stretched to include words and phrases commonly used by a broad ideological sampling of politicians and political operatives to encourage enthusiasm, how will that new standard chill speech in American society?