Georgetown Law’s ICAP Files Brief in Support of CNN Case Against President Trump

November 13, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today teamed up to file an amicus (or “friend-of-the-court”) brief  in support of the lawsuit filed by CNN and Jim Acosta 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 news gathering and questioning of government officials violates key First Amendment rights. The brief shows the threats to the healthy functioning of our democracy that will mount unless judicial intervention restores the protections to which plaintiffs are entitled under the First Amendment by arguing:

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.

“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 in 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.”

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