PEN America Files Lawsuit Against President Trump
October 23, 2018
On October 16, 2018, PEN America, a leading organization that defends free expression on behalf of its 7,200 members who are writers and literary professionals, filed a lawsuit against President Trump for “using the powers of the federal government to retaliate against journalists and media outlets he finds objectionable, in violation of the First Amendment.”
In a press release about the filing, PEN America asserts that “while President Trump is free to express his own views critical of journalists and media outlets, his use of the regulatory and enforcement powers of government to punish the press for criticism of him is unconstitutional.”
“The president has done more than vent against the press,” writes Jennifer Egan, President of PEN America and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, in a post for Literary Hub, “he has threatened to use his presidential powers to stymie reporters and news organizations, and has followed through on those threats—by barring from the Rose Garden a reporter whose question he disliked; by ordering the Postal Service to investigate Amazon’s shipping rates in retaliation for negative coverage by the WASHINGTON POST (both are owned by Jeff Bezos); by legally challenging an unremarkable vertical merger between AT&T and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, as punishment for negative coverage.”
The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in New York, where PEN America is based, and asks that the court enter a declaratory judgement on the matter and prohibit President Trump from directing federal employees or agencies from taking retaliatory actions. The organization is represented by Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit, and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic. More information about PEN America and this lawsuit can be found on the organization’s website.
Image Credit: PEN America Center, Inc.