Prior Restraint

Judge Rejects Justice Department’s Emergency Request To Block Bolton’s Book

Bolton Memoir
A federal judge has denied the government’s request for an emergency restraining order blocking the dissemination John R. Bolton’s political memoir (right). Bolton served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor from 2018 to 2019 (left, photo by Gage Skidmore).

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia declined the Justice Department’s request to halt the publication of a political memoir by former national security adviser John R. Bolton, after finding that an injunction was unlikely to stop the book’s circulation.

The Justice Department sued Bolton on June 16th, alleging that he failed to complete a pre-publication review. The next day, the department filed an emergency request asking the judge to issue a restraining order barring the book’s publisher, as well as any bookstores that received the book, from disseminating copies.

See previous story: Justice Department Asks Judge to Halt Distribution of Bolton’s Memoir

In his ruling, United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote that the book raised “grave national security concerns,” and that Bolton stood to lose the profits from the book deal for breaking his nondisclosure agreement. Nevertheless, the judge argued that an injunction preventing further spread of the book would be futile.

“In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm. But in the Internet age,  even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality. A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop. With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe—many in newsrooms—the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo,” Lamberth wrote.

The Washington Post Court Ruling