[guest post by Dana]
This morning, Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the White House to restore Jim Acosta’s press pass , which had been revoked after a heated exchange with President Trump at last week’s press conference. In granting CNN’s request, Kelly specifically focused on a lack of required due process:
A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump White House to immediately restore the press pass of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta as the case progresses after the network filed a lawsuit suit claiming that revoking it violated the First Amendment.
The judge repeatedly emphasized that his decision was based on the Fifth Amendment and that Acosta was denied his right to due process.
“If at some point after restoring the hard pass the government would like to move to vacate the restraining order on the grounds that it has fulfilled its due process obligations then it may, of course, do so and I will promptly address that and then the remaining basis of the (temporary restraining order),” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said.
Speaking after the ruling, Ted Boutros, an attorney for CNN said the news organization is “extremely pleased with the ruling today.”
“A great day for the First Amendment and journalism,” he said. “We’re very excited to have Mr. Acosta be able to go back and get his hard pass and report the news about the White House.”
Judge Kelly was nominated by President Trump, and confirmed by a 94-2 vote. By noting this, does it help lay to rest claims made by those on the left side of the aisle that Trump only appoints judges that will protect his interests? Or does it simply demonstrate that Kelly is a judge who recognizes his duty to not be politically motivated and to act as a neutral arbiter who applies the law to the facts?
As far as Jim Acosta’s return to the White House press conferences, I’m curious to know who actually controls these events? It appears as if there is no mechanism in place for the White House to give a reporter their due process at the time and revoke their pass. And if that is the case, by not having control (or a mechanism in place), the door has been left wide open for further grandstanding by Acosta (and maybe others). If he was able to dominate a presser like he did last week, by refusing to accept that his turn was over and sit down, then what recourse does the White House have at its disposal now? And given Acosta’s evidenced persistence, even if Trump didn’t call on him, what would stop him from acting out, or sidling up to a colleague and co-opting the microphone? Because clearly, he didn’t care that he was stepping on other reporters’ opportunities to question the President last week.
The White House has not issued a response to the judge’s ruling, nor has President Trump tweeted about it.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE: President Trump spoke to reporters after today’s ruling was announced. He said that people have to behave, and as such, the administration is currently writing up rules and regulations to line up with that position. When asked specifically about what those rules and regs might look like, the President said that it was all about reporters practicing decorum. Further, he stated that while he believes in “total freedom of the press. It’s very important to me. It’s more important to me than anyone would believe,” it must exercised respectfully with regard to staffers. He also added that if the reporters don’t follow the rules and regulations, they would end up back in court, claiming that “we would win.” The President also pointed out that the White House retains the option of simply walking out of a press conference if proper decorum is not demonstrated.
As a reminder, this is the same president who recently said of the press:
“What a stupid question that is”
“I know you’re not thinking. You never do”
“You are a rude, terrible person”
“You’re creating violence by your question”
“That’s such a racist question”