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The New England First Amendment Coalition demanded today that the press pass of a White House reporter be restored after it was revoked without meaningful due process.
“The Constitution recognizes that a free press is necessary to keeping the public informed about government activity and protects the right of the press to gather and publish the news,” wrote NEFAC and other advocates in a Jan. 13 amicus brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
“Suspending a journalist’s hard pass and denying that journalist access to White House press facilities deprives the public of reporting about presidents and their administrations and may only occur when stringent and exacting First Amendment and due process requirements are satisfied,” they added.
The groups filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which is hearing Karem v. Trump.
The case began last year when White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham suspended the press credentials of Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy and a regular CNN contributor, for 30 days. She cited an incident more than a month earlier between Karem and former President Trump aide Sebastian Gorka after a “Social Media Summit” in the White House Rose Garden.
Grisham said that Karem’s actions did not conform to acceptable standards but recognized that the White House lacked clear rules for behavior. She went ahead with the suspension, arguing that Karem’s behavior violated an unwritten but “widely-shared understanding” regarding “decorum” and “professional[ism].”
In their brief, NEFAC and fellow amici explained that the U.S. Constitution requires that the White House provide meaningful due process before denying, suspending, or revoking a journalist’s press pass.
In addition, the White House must “articulate and publish an explicit and meaningful standard governing denial of White House press passes” which are essential for an informed electorate and accountable executive branch, the groups wrote.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.