A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order on Friday allowing CNN reporter Jim Acosta to regain his White House press pass, pending a later ruling about broader constitutional issues in the case.
In court on Friday, federal judge Timothy Kelly said that Acosta's immediate due-process rights were harmed by the White House's revocation of his credentials following a contentious exchange between Acosta and President Donald Trump at a November 7 press conference. Acosta had not been provided with prior notice about the decision.
According to reports from the courtroom, Kelly said that CNN was likely to succeed on Fifth Amendment claims about the notification process used to revoke Acosta's “hard pass” needed to cover Trump as a member of the press corps.
Beyond that, Kelly wanted additional filings from the attorneys in the case over the next two weeks, with the first set of filings due next Tuesday.
The Trump administration has argued that the President has the right to choose which reporters have access to the White House and to control media members who behave inappropriately at press conferences.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press said the Justice Department argued in court that Acosta lost his access over “his refusal to comply with the general standards of a press conference.”
“There’s no First Amendment right to access the White House grounds,” said Justice Department lawyer James Burnham.
Ted Boutrous, the attorney for Acosta and CNN, said on Wednesday the reporter was being censored by the White House for his line of questioning toward President Trump. “'Rudeness' is really a code word for 'I don't like you being an aggressive reporter,'” Boutrous claimed.
“I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,” the New York Times reported Kelly as saying from the bench on Friday. “I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here.”
Presidential press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said after the ruling that Acosta's press pass would be restored and the White House would “develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future.”
Scott Bomboy is editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.