In Defense of the Fourth Estate, A Landmark First Amendment Lawsuit Against President Trump Will Proceed

Il quarto stato (1901): a march of strikers in Turin, Italy / Public Domain

The term Fourth Estate or fourth power refers to the press and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues. Though it is not formally recognized as a part of a political system, it wields significant indirect social influence.

The derivation of the term fourth estate arises from the traditional European concept of the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The equivalent term “fourth power” is somewhat uncommon in English, but it is used in many European languages, including German (Vierte Gewalt), Spanish (Cuarto poder), and French (Quatrième pouvoir), to refer to a government’s separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial branches.



Today a federal court ruled against President Trump in a lawsuit that claims he has used government power to retaliate against media coverage and reporters he dislikes in violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the court denied a government motion to dismiss the case and will allow it to go forward on allegations that President Trump has retaliated against the White House press corps and certain holders of security clearances who work as media commentators based on their First Amendment-protected speech.

PEN America, with counsel Protect Democracy, the Yale Law School Media Freedom of Information & Access Clinic, and Davis Wright Tremaine, filed the landmark lawsuit to stop President Trump’s campaign of censorship against the press. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the president’s bid to dismiss the case, allowing it to proceed to the discovery phase.

Susan Nossel courtesy of PEN America Center under  CC BY-SA 4.0 license

SUZANNE NOSSEL, CEO of PEN AMERICA, the plaintiff in the case, issued the following statement:

“It’s hard to think of a moment in American history in which unvarnished, accurate news reporting has mattered more than it does now. This decision is a victory not just for PEN America and our own writers, but also for the journalists and media outlets doing the vital, risky work of keeping us all informed.  But above all, it is a win for all individuals who depend on a free press to dig out the facts and hold leadership accountable without fear of reprisal.  We sued the president because we believe the First Amendment prohibits him from retaliating against speech he dislikes. We are grateful that this essential suit can move forward, vindicating the rights of all those who rely on a free press.”  
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JENNIFER EGAN, PRESIDENT of PEN AMERICA, issued the following statement:“PEN America is profoundly grateful for the court’s timely decision. Though we filed our lawsuit more than a year ago, the Trump administration’s punitive stance toward the press has continued unabated, with corrosive results for truth, fact, our democracy, and—most recently—public health.”

KRISTY PARKER, COUNSEL for PROTECT DEMOCRACY, one of the organizations representing PEN America in the lawsuit, issued the following statement:

“The president can take to Twitter to complain all he wants about media coverage, but he abuses his power and violates the Constitution when he uses his office to punish members of the media. This is not North Korea—we don’t allow our politicians to control what the press says or punish the media for coverage that Dear Leader doesn’t like. Just the opposite—we rely on the media to hold the powerful accountable to the people. It’s important for all Americans that the press can do their jobs freely.”

The lawsuit was filed by Protect Democracy and co-counsel on behalf of PEN America, a leading organization of writers and literary professionals. The lawsuit claims that President Trump has violated the First Amendment rights of PEN America and its members through his threats to use—and actual use of—government power to punish the speech of those he perceives as critics in the media.

The plaintiffs argued that under the First Amendment’s protection for freedom of speech, President Trump can express his own views and criticize journalists and media organizations, but he cannot issue credible threats or deploy government power to retaliate against the media for its coverage. As laid out in the complaint, the president has in at least five situations used or threatened to use the regulatory and enforcement powers of government to punish the speech of journalists. He has:

  • Initiated a government review to raise postal rates to punish the owner of the Washington Post;
  • Directed DOJ enforcement actions against media companies, including CNN’s parent company Time Warner;
  • Interfered with White House press access;
  • Threatened to revoke broadcast licenses; and
  • Revoked the White House press credentials and security clearances of media commentators.

The court granted the government’s motion to dismiss on claims related to the first four situations, finding that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue, but allowed the case to go forward on the claims related to press credentials and security clearances. The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment—a ruling that the president’s use of government power to punish the press violates the First Amendment. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could have far-reaching consequences for a president who has made a habit of retaliating against his media critics, and for future presidents who might seek to escalate attacks on the press.

The government had argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue and failed to state a legal claim. Today’s ruling held that the plaintiffs can pursue claims for declaratory relief based on allegations of retaliation against the White House press corps and holders of security clearances.

The case will now move into discovery, where plaintiffs will be able to obtain documents from the government to substantiate its claims that President Trump has sought to use the regulatory state to punish media he does not like.

Read more about the case HERE.

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This post is courtesy of Wikipedia and PEN America.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Itsmission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.



Jamie Dedes:

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“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

“If right’s what matters, what is right?” … from Meg, curator of “Resistance Poetry”

Photo courtesy of Ken Kistler, Public Domain Pictures.net

“My team decided that the only way to attempt to defend this monstrous approach [Stalin’s] to state-building was to reject everything our opponent team would hold dear: all concepts of democracy, the value of the individual, the moral responsibility of leadership.” MORE



Meg, a poet and the esteemed founder and curator of Resistance Poetry, a publication on Medium, has posted a profoundly important collection, absolutely worth your time. However, at the very least, please take a moment to read her short but sharply pointed intro to the collection HERE.



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Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Environmental reporter Philip Jacobson was detained and provisionally released this week, purportedly due to a visa issue.

Deforestation in Riau, Sumatra, to make way for an oil palm plantation, HaydenOil Palm Concession under CC BY 2.0 license

“Journalism is clearly not a crime. This case is an administrative matter, a visa problem, not a criminal one,” Harsono said. [Andreas Harsono, Indonesian research at Human Rights Watch] HERE.



The detention of a U.S. journalist in Indonesia may have been linked to his news outlet’s reporting critical of the government. Environmental reporter Philip Jacobson was detained and provisionally released this week, purportedly due to a visa issue. PEN America advises Indonesian officials to resolve the case promptly and drop any criminal charges.

“While we are relieved that Philip has been temporarily released, we remain concerned that he is being targeted for his work in an attempt to send a warning signal to those journalists and news outlets who undertake investigative reporting on sensitive topics in Indonesia,” said Karin Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America. “Even if there is evidence of a visa-related violation, it should be handled as an administrative rather than a criminal matter and be resolved as quickly as possible, and we call on the authorities to allow both Indonesian and foreign journalists to work freely and without fear of retaliation.”

Jacobson, a U.S. citizen who works as an editor and strategist at Mongabay, a multilingual environmental news website, was in Indonesia on a business visa. On December 17, the day Jacobson was scheduled to leave the city Palangkaraya, immigration officers came to the guesthouse where he was staying and instructed him to remain in the city while they conducted an investigation into an alleged violation of his visa. They also confiscated Jacobson’s passport.

On January 21, authorities took him into custody and held him in a detention center for three days. On Friday, he was released into “city detention.” Law enforcement officials said he violated the terms of his visa and could face a prison sentence of up to five years. The day before he was approached by officials, he had attended a hearing between local lawmakers and an indigenous rights group but was not reporting on the event. His employer Mongabay has recently published articles that criticize Indonesia’s handling of conflict with indigenous communities over land rights, deforestation of Indonesian rainforests, and corruption.

This post is courtesy of PEN America, Reuters, and Wikipedia

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


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Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Two Poems by Mbizo Chirasha. . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Sandstone rock formations typical of Mapungubwe National Park courtesy of Laura SA under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe (or Maphungubgwe) (c.1075–1220) was a medieval state in Southern Africa, the first stage in a development that would culminate in the creation of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe in the 13th century.



This week’s prompt is graciously hosted by Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha. 

MAPUNGUBWE

Land of baobab, land of eagles
Mapungubwe,sagging with ambition of nujoma, madikizela and sobukwe
Land of crocodiles and spiritual eagles- Mapungubwe
Rivers groaning with sweet tongues and sacred laughters
Mapungubwe – dream of stones
Bones and spirits quietly sleeping under the burden of peaceful rocks
Your songs , mapungubwe rhythm to bones of dead heroes and sleeping heroines
Mapungubwe ,crying tears of laughter, struggle and freedom ,
Mapungubwe!

Editor’s Note: nujoma is Sam Nujoma, a Namibian revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist and politician; Madikizela is Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a South-African anti-apardied activest, politician, and the second wife of Nelson Mandela; Sobukwe is Robert Sobukwe, South African political dissident, teacher, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress. 

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

SUNSET ACCOUSTICS

Sing Bamako, sing of spiders blighting freedom tomatoes
Sing of our pimped heritage
Somalia, the dramatic irony of Africa
Ethiopia, bring back the oil of our anthems and the clay of our identity
Ivory coast , your hands are hardened by hard years of madness
Cockroaches are walking over sleeping Zambezi
Gugulethu ,tired of scathy tongues and maruajuana
Egypt bulletins drenched by Arab spring urine
Abuja, how long are you going to walk in shadows?

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

Mbizo Chirasha

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is a poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am doing this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany, but England or U.S. would work too.  Open to suggestion.  Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghanaian politician and revolutionary coined the term “neocolonialism” in 1957.

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Mbizo’s prompt for us this week is “Neocolonialism” or the use in place of direct imperialism of capitalism, globalization, and cultural imperialism for the suppression of human rights by First World actors in Third World arenas, Africa, Asia, Latin America.  Or, short story: power and profits over people. What is the fallout? Poverty. Hunger. Violence. Failed states. Terrorism. Have we all lost our souls?  These are my thoughts as I ponder what I might write in response to Mbizo’s prompt.

Share you own poem or poems and …

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, January by 27 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


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Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton