Advocates Suing Trump for Attacks on Press. Can They Win?

Free-press groups are suing President Trump for what they're calling "illegal" attacks.

Scott Free
President Trump's Twitter blunder is news yet again. (Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images)
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The PEN America writers association announced it is filing a federal lawsuit against President Trump this week, seeking an order directing his office to refrain from enacting revenge against the press.

A coalition of writers that defends free expression from Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media, Freedom and Information Clinic signed on to the suit, claiming that although the President is entitled to his own free speech — including the phrase “fake news” — “he cannot use the powers of his office to suppress or punish speech he doesn’t like.”

Citing Trump’s attacks on CNN and his attempt to block a proposed merger of Time Warner — the news network’s parent company — with AT&T, as well as the President’s repeated threats against the Washington Post, its owner Jeff Bezos and his largest company, Amazon, the group alleges Trump is infringing on the Constitution.

Though the suit against the President is unprecedented, the writers are hoping to win a decision based on a Seventh Circuit judge’s ruling from 2015. The opinion states that, “a public official who tries to shut down an avenue of expression of ideas and opinions through actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction is violating the First Amendment.”

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