Federal judge blocks Nassar case gag order
United States District Judge Janet T. Neff has issued a temporary restraining order to allow alleged victims of ex-MSU employee Larry Nassar to publicly discuss the case.
More than 80 alleged Nassar victims and their attorneys are suing Ingham County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina after she issued a gag order on March 27 to bar parties from talking publicly about material not already in the court record.
The order also bars attorneys from publicly commenting on the strengths or weaknesses of the other side’s case.
The gag order creates a de facto requirement for alleged Nassar victims to file a lawsuit before they can publicly tell their story, which violates the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n stating “no citizen of the United States should be required to engage the services of an attorney to exercise his or her basic, fundamental constitutional rights,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs also say the gag order violates their First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and that the gag order is so vague it is impossible to properly follow or enforce. Neff supported these arguments in the restraining order.
"Plaintiffs have shown a strong likelihood of success on their constitutional claims," Neff wrote. "Plaintiffs persuasively argue that the Gag Order is unconstitutionally vague, as it is not clear which individuals it actually covers and what conduct or speech falls under its scope."
Neff also expressed concern that the gag order could prevent new victims from coming forward, which would "cause irreparable harm."
A hearing has been scheduled for the case for April 18 in Grand Rapids.