Attacks on the Press

Federal Court Rules That First Amendment Suit Against Trump Can Proceed

President Donald Trump addresses conservative activists at the Family Research Council’s annual gala in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected President Donald Trump’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit that claims that the President retaliated against media companies and reporters who were critical of his actions.

View previous story: PEN America Rebuts Trumps Motion to Dismiss Suit Over First Amendment Violations 

In October 2018, PEN America and Protect Democracy sued Trump, alleging that he violated the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. The complaint lists five separate occasions in which the President threatened to use governmental power to punish the speech of journalists.

These include:

  • Initiating a review to raise postal rates to punish Amazon and The Washington Post’s owner Jeff Bezos;
  • Directing the Department of Justice to block a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN; 
  • Interfering with White House press access;
  • Threatening to revoke media licenses; and
  • Revoking press passes and security clearance for certain reporters, including CNN’s Jim Acosta.

In a statement about the federal court’s ruling, Jennifer Egan, President of PEN America, said that they are “profoundly grateful” for the court’s decision. “Though we filed our lawsuit more than a year ago, the Trump administration’s punitive stance toward the press has continued unabated, with corrosive results for truth, fact, our democracy, and—most recently—public health,”  said Egan.

The March 24th ruling allows the case to proceed to the discovery phase. 

 Complaint  Opinion  PEN America Press Release  The Hollywood Reporter