White House Must Restore Journalist's Press Pass, Court Says

Handing the Trump administration a defeat, a federal appellate court has upheld an order requiring the White House press secretary to restore journalist Brian Karem's press credentials.

In an opinion issued Friday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said Karem lacked fair notice that his press pass would be suspended due to allegedly “unprofessional” conduct.

The decision stemmed from Trump's July 2019 “social media summit,” which involved convening right-wing activists to discuss alleged bias by tech companies.

At the end of the summit, Trump gave a prepared speech at the Rose Garden. Karem, a correspondent for Playboy and analyst on CNN, was among the journalists present in a cordoned press area for that speech. Afterwards, he and former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka publicly argued.

Three weeks later, former Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Karem his “hard” press pass -- which allowed him relatively quick entree to the White House -- would be suspended for 30 days due to his “unprofessional” conduct.

Karem then sought a court order restoring his credentials. Among other arguments, he said the revocation violated his right to due process of law, because he didn't have fair notice that his press pass could be revoked for one month due to allegedly unprofessional conduct.

A trial judge sided with Karem and issued an injunction requiring the restoration of his credentials.

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

The judges said Karem's due process claim appears likely to succeed because nothing put him on notice that he could lose access to the White House for 30 days -- described by the judges as “an eon in today’s news business” -- due to “purportedly unprofessional conduct at the non-press-conference event.”

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