A Texas couple sued by Democrats for participating in a “Trump Train” in 2020 are asking a federal judge to dismiss the case as an anti-First Amendment attack on political free speech.

“My clients were sued for nothing more than driving along I-35 with their Trump and other political flags proudly displayed on their vehicle, which they have the clear right to do,” said Jerad Najvar of Najvar Law Firm, who is representing the couple.

In October 2020, New Braunfels residents Joeylynn and Robert Mesaros joined a group showing support for President Donald Trump’s re-election by trailing a Biden campaign bus as it traveled through Central Texas.

In July 2021, four Democrats involved in Biden’s presidential campaign—including former Texas senator and failed gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis—sued the Mesaroses and several other Trump supporters in federal court, alleging civil conspiracy and civil rights violations.

The Mesaroses have now filed a second motion asking the district court to dismiss the case outright.

“This lawsuit is an egregious abuse of the judicial system,” said Najvar, arguing the Democrats’ “novel legal theory” would upend settled First Amendment law and chill the completely legal and non-violent speech of conservatives.

Davis and the other Democrats claim the Mesaroses violated a federal law that guards against interference with the right to vote.

“But [the] Plaintiffs nowhere allege that anyone was intimidated or dissuaded from exercising their right to vote because of the Trump Train on October 30, 2020,” Najvar said. “Instead, the claim is that the Trump Train drivers intimidated the Biden campaign surrogates and workers while they were in the act of offering ‘support or advocacy’ to Biden as the bus traveled to Austin on I-35.”

Because there is no claim of interference with actual voting activity, the Plaintiffs’ theory relies solely on alleged interference with rights protected under the First Amendment—but proving a violation of First Amendment rights would require proof of government involvement in the Plaintiffs’ imaginary conspiracy to intimidate. The Mesaroses are not government agents.

“[The] Plaintiffs are sophisticated and know exactly what they’re doing,” Najvar said. “This lawsuit is an attempt to silence political opposition by intimidation through the court system.”

He said Davis and the other plaintiffs are represented by at least 10 attorneys, primarily from New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Mesaros’ motion to dismiss the Democrats’ lawsuit is pending.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.