(CNSNews.com) – Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia granted CNN a temporary restraining order Friday, saying that the White House must return CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
The judge did not rule on whether President Donald Trump and his aides violated Acosta’s First Amendment rights by suspending the hard pass in the first place.
Kelly did, however, rule on CNN’s Fifth Amendment argument that Acosta was denied due process before revoking the press pass, thus granting temporary relief by ordering Acosta’s pass be returned.
The White House said it will abide by the judge’s ruling and return Acosta’s pass.
“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House. 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. There must be decorum at the White House,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
"We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press," CNN said in a statement reacting to the ruling.
Ted Boutrous, the attorney representing CNN in the lawsuit, called it "a great day for the First Amendment and journalism."
Acosta, speaking to reporters after the ruling, thanked those in the media who supported him in the lawsuit and added, “Let's get back to work.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also weighed in on the ruling, saying, "Today’s decision reaffirms that no one, not even the president, is above the law.
“The White House surely hoped that expelling a reporter would deter forceful questioning, but the court’s ruling will have the opposite effect. The freedom of the press is a bedrock principle, and our democracy is strengthened when journalists challenge our leaders rather than defer to them,” Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s speech, privacy, and technology project, said in a statement.
Arguments still continue in the case. Additional hearings are expected to take place in the near future to decide on the First Amendment issue.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Acosta’s White House press credentials were suspended last week after he refused to give the microphone back to a White House intern during a press conference with Trump when Trump refused to answer any more of Acosta’s questions.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time that the White House will “never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young women just trying to do her job as a White House intern.” She called his behavior “absolutely unacceptable” and disrespectful to other reporters he refused to allow to ask their questions.