A federal judge has ruled Friday that the White House must give back CNN reporter Jim Acosta‘s press credentials, which were revoked after a heated press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who is an appointee of Trump, announced his decision in Washington, D.C., after more than a week-long battle between the White House and CNN.
The judge said there should be due process in place for limiting a journalist’s access to the White House.
The White House issued a statement on the court ruling saying it will allow Acosta to return to work.
“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “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.”
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Acosta clashed with Trump during a heated press conference on Nov. 7. Trump called the reporter “rude” and a “terrible person” after Acosta asked questions about the president’s reference to a migrant caravan headed to the U.S. from Central America as an “invasion.”
A White House intern then attempted to take a microphone away from Acosta, who continued to ask questions as Trump dismissed him.
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After the incident, Sanders tweeted a video appearing to show Acosta reacting aggressively to the intern; critics allege the video was doctored.
Sanders said in a statement that Acosta’s privileges had been revoked due to his interaction with the intern.
But CNN fought back and filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning, saying the revocation was a violation of his First Amendment right of freedom of the press.
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Kelly did not address the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech and the press but instead focused on due process provisions of the Constitution that provide for fair treatment through a judicial process.
After Acosta’s credentials were revoked, many news outlets, including Fox News, backed CNN’s lawsuit.
In a joint statement issued last week, the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post and others said they’re joining the fight, as “reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions.”
— With files from Reuters