Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, has just ruled on the motion of Jim Acosta and CNN for a temporary restraining order restoring Acosta’s White House “hard pass”.

Based on reports from reporters in the media room, it appears that the Judge ruled that while the White House doesn’t have to allow any reporters into the White House, by setting up a credentialing process it owes people like Acosta due process, and that it confers a First Amendment interest entitled to protection. The Court appears to have ruled that Acosta’s First Amendment rights supercede the White House interest in orderly press conferences, and that Acosta was not given due process in the revocation process.

Quick Assessment: This is a bad decision which effectively gives an individual reporter control over the White House press briefing process. It the White House can’t revoke the credentials of someone who disrupts a press conference in the way Acosta did, including refusing to turn over the microphone, then press conferences will turn into even more of a circus than they already are. Clearly, the lack of any formal process for revocation of press credentials influenced the court. Trump still appears to have the right not to call on Acosta. But what it Acosta refuses to stay silent, shouts, injects himself into the conference, and otherwise disrupts proceedings when he is not called on? The White House better set up, if it doesn’t have it already, a speedy but “due” process to revoke the credentials.

Until there is a transcript, we have to rely on media reports of the Judge’s oral ruling.

For background, see these prior posts:

Based on reporting from the media room, the Judge ruled:


This NYT Editor seems to have it right. It’s a temporary victory for Acosta, but once the White House gets procedures in place, it’s a loss for the press overall:

Here’s the Court docket entry:

11/16/2018 Minute Entry and Order for proceedings held before Judge Timothy J. Kelly: Motion Hearing continued and held on 11/16/2018. Oral Ruling GRANTING 2 MOTION for Temporary Restraining Order, for the reasons stated on the record in open court. Order forthcoming. (Court Reporter: Timothy Miller) (kh) (Entered: 11/16/2018)

Acosta won, the press lost. Trump is having the White House draft press conduct rules:

In an interview with Chris Wallace for Fox News Sunday, Trump brushed off Judge Timothy Kelly’s Friday ruling that CNN’s Jim Acosta have his Secret Service pass to the White House grounds be reinstated. Despite the ruling being a interim rejection of The White House argument that the president has “broad” discretion in which credentialed members of the press are allowed access to attend official briefings, Trump said, “It’s not a big deal,” and that his team is already working on “rules” for reporter conduct.

“We’re doing that, we’re going to write them up right now,” Trump told Wallace. “It’s not a big deal and if he misbehaves we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference.”

Pushing for specifics, Wallace asked if certain things are going to be considered “over the line” and Trump reiterated that these new rules are being written now, but that they will cover “decorum” and outline that reporters “can’t keep asking questions.”


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