Tags: Donald Trump | Trump Administration | john bolton | the room where it happened | book | first amendment

Writers Groups Oppose Trump Blocking Bolton Book

a copy of john boltons book a room where it happened
A copy of "The Room Where It Happened," by former national security adviser John Bolton (Alex Brandon/AP)

By    |   Friday, 19 June 2020 04:08 PM

Two writers groups have filed amicus briefs opposing a lawsuit brought by the Trump administration to try to block a book by ex-national security adviser John Bolton.

Both Pen America and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have filed briefs in the case. 

The Reporters Committee filed its brief with the Association of American Publishers, Dow Jones, and the New York Times and Washington Post. It cited cases including a landmark 1971 Supreme Court ruling that said the Nixon administration couldn't block the publication of the Pentagon Papers, a secret report about the Vietnam War.

"Pen America supports the First Amendment right of public employees to produce works that are critical of the government, and of readers to receive their unique perspective unfettered by government censorship," its brief declared.

The Supreme Court has never upheld an attempt to stop publication of a work on matters of public importance, the brief noted, adding the government is trying to circumvent that doctrine of so-called prior restraint on free speech and free press by asking the court to order Bolton to stop his publisher.

"It is not difficult to see what is going on: The president is employing the apparatus of the federal government to punish his political enemies, thwart freedom of speech and pursue his political interests in an election year," the brief stated.

In a statement, Nora Benavidez, Pen America's director of U.S. free expression programs, declared, "A free society cannot abide the government silencing certain perspectives before they are even uttered; such censorship runs contrary to the very notion of what our first amendment was written to guard against.

"Any result other than dismissal in this case will be an affront to Bolton's First Amendment right to speak and to all of our rights as members of the public and as readers to learn about his views," she said.

"We know the president has a penchant for lobbing attacks at those whose commentary he wants to suppress. It's why we sued President Trump in 2018, as he has engaged in an unconstitutional pattern of targeting reporters whose coverage he dislikes. We'll continue to fight these censorship tactics for our writer members and their readers."

Most observers don't expect Bolton's book to be blocked, The Guardian noted, and the lead lawyer on the Pen brief, Ted Boutrous, said the nation's high court "has never upheld a prior restraint on speech about matters of public concern, nor should the district court do so in this case."

Excerpts from "The Room Where It Happened" have been published since the Department of Justice filed its suit in federal court in Washington, D.C. They've included Bolton's contention of President Donald Trump's impeachable conduct in asking China to help secure his reelection.

Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a foreign policy hawk, worked at the White House from April 2018 to September 2019, when he resigned. Trump claimed to have fired him.

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Two writers groups have filed amicus briefs opposing a lawsuit brought by the Trump administration to try to block a book by ex-national security adviser John Bolton.
john bolton, the room where it happened, book, first amendment
Friday, 19 June 2020 04:08 PM
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