From its inception, PEN America has been an organization of writers who come together in support of literature and in defense of free expression. Our charter, adopted in 1948, forcefully states: "PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship. It believes that the necessary advance of the world toward a more highly organized political and economic order renders free criticism of governments, administrations, and institutions imperative.”
This week, PEN America upheld the spirit of that charter by filing a lawsuit in federal court against the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The filing asserts that the president’s threats and actual use of the regulatory and enforcement powers of government to retaliate against the press for their coverage of him is unconstitutional.
The suit seeks to stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.
Donate to PEN America today to support our ongoing efforts to defend press freedom in the United States and around the world.
President Trump’s tirades have created an environment of hostility toward the media wherein journalists have been subject to death threats, need bodyguards to cover political rallies, and have faced attacks at their newsrooms. Yet most of the president’s verbal attacks on the press are protected speech under the First Amendment.
However, when the president crosses the line and threatens to use the machinery of the state to punish the media, or actually does so, it is vital for the courts to step in and affirm that such threats and retaliation are unconstitutional.
This lawsuit is part of PEN America’s larger mission of defending our rights to free expression and free speech. Donate today to join the fight for our First Amendment rights and for a free press.
Together, we are determined to rise in defense of the press freedom protections that are so fundamental to our society and democracy.