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White House responds to federal judge ruling Jim Acosta's press pass must be restored

The White House has released a statement after a federal judge ordered the White House to temporarily return CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass in an initial victory for the news network's lawsuit against the Trump administration.

"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,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee, on Friday granted CNN's request for a temporary restraining order restoring Acosta's "hard pass" — which permits access to the White House grounds  — after CNN had argued Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights had been violated by the suspension of his press pass.

Kelly did not rule on CNN's underlying case. He did say that CNN and Acosta are likely to win their case with the argument that their Fifth Amendment rights to due process were violated by the White House.

“Indeed whatever process occurred within the government is still so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me at oral argument who made the initial decision to revoke Mr. Acosta’s press pass,” Kelly said. Though the White House provided written reasons for revoking Acosta's pass after the fact, Kelly ruled that "these belated efforts were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process.”

He described his ruling as "very limited" and left open an avenue to remove Acosta's pass with due process.

“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 and Acosta said in a statement.

Acosta's hard pass was suspended on November 7 after he refused to surrender his microphone at a White House press conference and touched a White House aide who attempted to take the mic away. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders accused Acosta of "placing hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern."

In a later statement, Sanders said Acosta's pass had been pulled because he refused to allow time to other reporters and criticized Acosta's unprofessional behavior.

CNN also argues that Acosta's First Amendment rights were violated because the White House revoked his pass based on the "content" and "viewpoint" of his speech. The judge may consider the merits of CNN's First Amendment argument in a ruling to come.

For now, Acosta gets his press pass back.

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