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Reporters Committee and Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection file brief in support of CNN’s lawsuit against the White House

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  1. Newsgathering
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection have filed a…

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of CNN and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit against the White House. The brief argues that the revocation of Acosta’s White House press credentials tramples on the Constitution — in particular, the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press — and could have a chilling effect on other journalists.

The brief argues that retaliating against Acosta and CNN for constitutionally protected newsgathering and questioning of government officials violates key First Amendment rights. From the brief:

“To dislike Acosta’s and CNN’s reporting is President Trump’s prerogative; but to retaliate against them by revoking Acosta’s White House security credentials (sometimes called a “hard pass”) tramples on the Constitution. Such retaliatory action not only harms CNN and Acosta but also aims to chill the constitutionally protected speech and newsgathering activity of other journalists whom the public depends upon to question government officials vigorously and to report candidly on the responses.”

“President Trump’s revocation of Acosta’s credentials is, simply put, extraordinary and out of line,” said Bruce Brown, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “It’s decidedly out of step with the traditions of freedom of speech and of the press enshrined in our Constitution, at the heart of our democracy, and long respected by presidential administrations of both parties, even in moments of great tension between the press and the president.”

“The First Amendment is one of our Constitution’s most powerful protections, safeguarding our freedom of speech against those who seek to silence vibrant expression — even if that person is the President of the United States,” said ICAP’s Executive Director and Visiting Professor of Law Joshua Geltzer. “A future in which White House reporters stop short of asking our leaders tough questions is a future in which the First Amendment has been dealt a body blow. Protecting and encouraging a wide range of views, including vigorously questioning and even criticizing the government, is at the core of the First Amendment’s protections; and courts must enforce those protections.”

The brief concludes by asking the court to grant, as quickly as possible, the restoration of Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials.

For media inquiries, please contact:

  • Jenn Topper, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, jtopper@rcfp.org, 202-795-9304
  • Crosby Armstrong, carmstrong@gpg.com, 202-337-0808
  • Office of Media Relations, mediarelations@law.georgetown.edu, 202-662-41998