President Donald Trump must face claims that he violated the First Amendment by revoking or threatening to revoke some journalists' press credentials and national security clearances, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
The decision, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield in the Southern District of Manhattan, stems from a lawsuit by PEN America, which advocates for journalists.
Among other claims, the organization alleged in an October 2018 complaint that Trump targeted media outlets and journalists, based on their criticism of him. PEN America later amended its complaint to include allegations surrounding the White House's highly publicized battle with CNN's Jim Acosta -- a member of the organization.
In November of 2018, after a contentious press conference, government officials revoked Acosta's press credentials. A federal judge subsequently ordered the government to restore Acosta's press pass.
PEN America sought a declaratory judgment that Trump violated the constitution by retaliating against journalists based on their viewpoints, and by threatening the media in a way that could chill free speech. The group also sought an injunction prohibiting the federal government from taking action against media organizations and journalists for their criticism of the White House.
Schofield ruled that PEN America was entitled to pursue its request for a declaratory judgment. But she said the organization could not proceed with its request for an injunction, given that Trump has “discretionary authority” over matters like security clearances.
“The President has significant discretion over White House press credentials and reporters’ access to the White House and Air Force One,” Shofield wrote. “Issuing an injunction to the President would impede his discretionary authority in these realms, and more generally, risk improper judicial encroachment on the executive branch.”