A Palm Beach County judge seems inclined to throw out a petition claiming Donald Trump should be declared mentally unfit to seek the presidency but he gave a Boca Raton attorney another chance to convince him the claims have merit.
In an order this week, Circuit Judge Jaimie Goodman gave attorney James Herb until Monday to explain why he should not throw out the petition as “facially insufficient” - a term that means it doesn’t pass legal muster.
Goodman said he was particularly concerned that Herb was using 200 statements the GOP presidential candidate has made on the campaign trail to support his contention that Trump suffers from histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. Such statements seem to be protected by the First Amendment, he said.
Quoting the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 decision that upheld the right of members of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest on a public sidewalk during the funeral of an Iraqi war veteran, Goodman reminded Herb: “In public debate, (we) must tolerate insulting and even outrageous speech in order to provide adequate breathing space to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.”
He also asked Herb to explain how he, as a state court judge, can keep someone from seeking the presidency if the candidate has complied with provisions of the U.S. Constitution that set out the eligibility requirements.
Herb, a guardianship attorney who filed the petition earlier this month, promised he would write a response. While he said Trump hasn’t been served a copy of the petition, Goodman sent a copy of his order to a house Trump owns next to the real estate tycoon’s private Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Trump, too, can hire an attorney to draft a response by Monday, Goodman said.