A federal judge on Friday ordered the White House to reinstate the press credentials of Jim Acosta, a CNN reporter.
Acosta’s pass was suspended indefinitely after a heated exchange with President Donald Trump at a news conference on November 7.
During the conference, Acosta had reportedly angered Trump when he persisted in questioning the president after he tried to move on to other reporters.
Following the suspension, CNN filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Trump, Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, and other officials, accusing them of violating the first amendment rights of CNN and Acosta to report on the presidency.
“This severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting,” CNN’s lawyers said.
But James Burnham, US justice department’s lawyer, countered that Acosta had “disrupted” the news conference.
Burnham insisted “there is no first amendment right to access the White House”.
In his ruling, Timothy Kelly, the judge, issued a temporary restraining order that requires the White House to restore Acosta’s access until a full hearing is held.
Kelly said his ruling was based on “due process” for the journalist, and that he would hold additional proceedings on the constitutional issues at stake, including the first amendment free press guarantee.
“I want to be very clear that I have not determined that the first amendment was violated,” he said.
Several media organizations, including the Associated Press, Fox News, NBC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post, supported CNN’s claim that revoking Acosta’s pass violated constitutional guarantees of a free press.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week. And I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. And let’s go back to work,” Acosta said outside the courthouse.
Reacting to the judgement, CNN, in a statement said: “We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American.”
Also, Sanders, in a statement, said Trump administration will return Acosta’s pass.
“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute first amendment right to access the White House. In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass. We will also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future,” the statement read.
“There must be decorum at the White House.”