April 11, 2019

PEN v. TRUMP: All The President’s Riposte. In October of last year, left-leaning PEN America, a 501(c)(3) organization whose stated mission is “to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literature of others” filed suit against President Trump, alleging that “The president’s conduct harms PEN America’s members by forcing them to do their work against the backdrop of credible threats of retaliation by the president.”

Late yesterday, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan filed a Motion to Dismiss the case, stating among other things that PEN does not have standing to bring the suit, and the only person alleged to have suffered harm was CNN’s Jim Acosta, but in fact Acosta voluntarily withdrew his suit against Trump after his White House credentials were reinstated. Of course, Acosta said the credentials were revoked as viewpoint discrimination because the president didn’t like his “reporting.” The White House responded (in not so many words) that his credentials were revoked for acting like a jerk in the Briefing Room.

The standing argument is pretty well-articulated, but fellow constitutionalists may wonder if the Complaint might be saved by the long-standing doctrine that a seemingly “moot” case may still be heard if it is “capable of repetition, yet evading review.” Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. ICC, 219 U.S. 498 (1911).

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that’s going to be PEN’s reply. Other than that, the Complaint seems to be little more than “Trump is a mean old meanie.”

IRONIC HYPERBOLE ALERT: PEN’s website states that:

“While many media outlets are unrelenting in their robust coverage, individual writers may think twice before publishing pieces or commentary that could put them in the White House’s crosshairs.”

I thought “crosshairs” was a dogwhistle for violence and was considered by our moral superiors to be an uncivil use of language. Or is PEN actually saying that teams of rooftop snipers are locked in on the entrances of America’s newsrooms? When Conservatives use that word: it’s a threat. When liberals use that word it’s “mere rhetoric.” 

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