More than 100,000 people have signed a petition proposing Donald Trump be arrested for inciting violence at his events during the 2016 election season. But despite crossing the required threshold for receiving an official response from the White House, according to its website’s terms of participation, the administration closed the petition Friday and declined to comment.
The short argument posted on the “We the People” site March 13 stated that Trump “has been inciting violent acts amongst his supporters. He should be arrested and prosecuted for this.” The originator of the petition justified the arrest on the basis of the Supreme Court ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969. In the case, the Court ruled that speech protected under the First Amendment may be unlawful if it is ”directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and is “likely to incite or produce such action,” according to Chicago-Kent’s College of Law project, Oyez. The petition, which accrued 101,491 signatures, failed to specifically cite events, times, and locations where the Republican presidential candidate incited acts of violence.
The White House’s response to the petition was equally short, stating that the request “falls outside the scope of the We the People Terms of Participation,” because the the site avoids addressing some matters involving law enforcement.
“To avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition,” the terms state. ”Where possible, we will notify signers of petitions whose content falls into these areas, in instances in which we don’t feel we will be able to respond meaningfully.”
The petition asking for Trump’s arrest was published on the site, which promises citizens a “voice in our government,” two days after the real estate mogul had to temporarily call off a campaign rally in Chicago on March 11 after multiple clashes erupted between Trump supporters and protesters. Five people were arrested and two officers were injured, Chicago police said.
Both Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blamed Trump’s divisive violent rhetoric on the campaign trail for the violence at his rally in Chicago. Previously, Trump said at a rally in Nevada in February commenting on protester being escorted out that he’d “like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
Most recently, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor battery for assaulting a former Breitbart reporter who was trying to ask Trump a question at a campaign event in Florida. Though Trump has continued to defend Lewandowski, his campaign is reportedly planning to minimize the campaign manager’s role in the future.