ACLU sues on Cohen's return to prison, argues feds violated free speech rights on his Trump book

The suit alleges release condition was a 'gag order' in violation of First Amendment rights.

Updated: July 21, 2020 - 12:46pm

The American Civil Liberties Union is coming to the defense of attorney Michael Cohen, arguing that the Justice Department ordering him back to prison because he intends to publish a tell-all Trump book violates his First Amendment rights.

The ACLU filed the suit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer, was released from federal detention in May because of the spread of the coronavirus. He was returned earlier this month for purportedly violating the terms of his release to home confinement which included a clause stating that he could have not contact with the media. 

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to several financial crimes, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. 

The ACLU is arguing that Cohen is being returned to prison because of his intention to write and release the book before the November election, which would be a violation of free speech. 

"We will defend the First Amendment from government censorship — as we have for a century now," the group tweeted Monday. 

"The gag order that the government sought to impose on Mr. Cohen was an unconstitutional prior restraint, and his continued imprisonment is part of a dangerous pattern of retaliation against Trump critics," the ACLU told Axios.

 

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