Ballard Spahr law firm plays role in successful effort to restore press access to Acosta


Ballard Spahr, which operates an office in Wilmington, was part of a successful effort to restore access to the White House for CNN report Jim Acosta.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in an oral ruling ordered the White House to return CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House “hard pass” immediately.

The White House on November 7, revoked Acosta’s pass — which provides reporters with access to the White House grounds and briefings — after a press conference.

There had long been bad blood between the president and Acosta, who was assertive in asking questions.

A White House intern had tried to grab the microphone from Acosta, and the White House initially claimed without evidence that he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman.”

CNN filed a lawsuit on the morning of November 13 asking the court for a temporary restraining order and that the White House return Acosta’s pass. The court held a hearing the following afternoon and issued its oral decision this morning.

Judge Kelly, a Trump appointee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, found that the White House had violated Acosta’s due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by revoking his pass without providing appropriate notice and an opportunity to be heard before the revocation.

The judge completely rejected the White House’s argument that a series of tweets and releases from President Trump and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, and an interim protest letter from CNN, furnished adequate process for Acosta.

Lawyers said Acosta had demonstrated irreparable harm to his First Amendment liberty interest because, for every day he is banned from White House grounds, he loses opportunities for interviews and breaking news events.

Judge Kelly rejected the government’s argument that CNN has other pass-holders who have not been banned.

Ballard Spahr’sMedia and Entertainment LawGroup represented a coalition of more than 50 news organizations participating in the litigation.

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