Political consultant and pundit Roger Stone is asking a US appeals court to overturn his social media ban which was imposed by US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson last month. Stone's attorneys are arguing that the ban violates the First Amendment rights to free speech of Stone, his wife, and other family members.
Jackson placed the gag order on Stone last month which prohibits him from “post[ing] or communicat[ing] on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook in any way on any subject, including but not limited to forwarding, liking, re-posting, or re-tweeting anyone else's statements, articles, posts, or tweets.”
Stone's attorneys are arguing that the gag order also places speech restrictions on his wife, step-daughter, and his wife's cousins through the following prohibition:
“The defendant may not comment publically about the case indirectly by having statements made publically on his behalf by surrogates, family members, spokespersons, representatives or volunteers.”
The attorneys claim that this provision has forced these family members to stop using social media because they fear their actions may cause Stone to be incarcerated or have a negative impact on the conditions of his release.
Jackson's reasoning for placing this gag order is that Stone repeatedly violated a previous gag order from February. The gag order is related to Stone's November trial where he will face charges of witness tampering in relation to former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Before the gag order was imposed, Stone was using social media ask for donations to cover his legal defense and declare his innocence.
Stone's appeal argues that Jackson's gag order is unconstitutional and that the government has failed to show there is a compelling government interest in restricting the speech of Stone and his family members. It adds:
“The prohibitions on Roger Stone are a prior restraint of his First Amendment rights. The prohibitions on his family members constitute a chilling effect on the exercise of their First Amendment rights.”
The appeal goes on to say that Stone and his family are being forced to remain passive when Stone has been the subject of thousands of articles related to his trial.
In addition to this, the appeal claims that the “total silencing of Roger Stone and his family” is based on no evidence or suggestion of evidence that “there is any likelihood of material prejudice to this case, or any threat to the integrity of the jury pool or a fair trial.”