Trump-Appointed Judge Grants Motion Restoring CNN Reporter’s Press Pass

by: The Knowledge Group

November 19, 2018


U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, granted a temporary motion to restore the CNN chief White House correspondent’s press pass. CNN asked for Jim Acosta to be granted a pass until the full hearing on the case for returning Acosta’s press access.

The lawsuit has broader value on the question of whether the government can bar a reporter from a public forum.

Acosta’s challenges to President Trump in a press conference prompted the White House ban. Judge Kelly found that banning Acosta constituted irreparable harm, and rejected the government’s assertion that Acosta could be replaced by another CNN reporter.

Unwelcome Questions

Trump has a well-known disdain for CNN, and has regularly described the network in negative terms through public statements and on social media.

At a press conference shortly after the midterm elections, Jim Acosta asked about President Trump’s statements regarding groups of migrants en route from Central America to the U.S. border. In a tense back-and-forth, Trump rejected Acosta’s questions and called on another member of the press.

Acosta went on to ask about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in U.S. politics. Trump rebuffed the questions, except to describe the investigation as a hoax. Acosta refused to give up a mic. The president called Acosta a “rude, terrible person”; the White House revoked Acosta’s press pass later the same day.

Constitutional Issue Spotting

At the time of this writing, the district judge has not opined on the First Amendment aspect of the case. The temporary order reinstating Acosta’s press pass is based on CNN’s showing that it will likely prevail on the merits of a Fifth Amendment claim. The judge suggested that the White House has fallen afoul of the federal government’s Constitutional duty not to deprive any person of liberty or property in the absence of due process of law.

We await the opinion issued after the lawsuit’s full hearing. The outcome could rest solely on the procedural due process. Where things could get interesting is in Judge Kelly’s treatment of the First Amendment ramifications.


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