From the New York Times:

[...] Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, barred journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations from attending his daily briefing, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

[...] Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC and The Huffington Post were among those shut out of the briefing.

Have First Amendment rights been violated?

Nothing from Cornell Law's page seems to indicate that not admitting certain parties to a press conference is in violation of the First Amendment:



The First Amendment is so concise I'll reproduce it here for everyone's perusal:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Is there any law that requires the U.S. President to include representatives from certain media outlets in any forum in which he or his delegate speaks to other representatives of "the press?" No.

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    Actions by executive branches, local councils, public employers, etc. have been found to violate the first amendment. See most recently Heffernan v City of Paterson. Executive actions meant to punish disfavored speech might be in violation of the first. In dicta, Sherrill v Knight said "denial of a White House press pass is violative of the first amendment only if it is based upon the content of the journalist's speech or otherwise discriminates against a class of protected speech". – K-C Feb 25 '17 at 17:16
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    @K-C - That's a good read. But note that court acknowledged: "Nor is the discretion of the President to grant interviews or briefings with selected journalists challenged. It would certainly be unreasonable to suggest that because the President allows interviews with some bona fide journalists, he must give this opportunity to all." – feetwet Feb 25 '17 at 17:27
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    I want to write an answer that says roughly, "in principle, this could be a violation of 1A, but it would depend on what could be proven about the intent/motivation of the executive." I won't have the time for a while, so maybe you'll edit yours before I get to doing that. – K-C Feb 25 '17 at 17:29
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    My main point is that the court didn't foreclose this line of argument simply because it didn't involve a law of congress and that there are examples where executive actions at every level have been held to violate 1A. – K-C Feb 25 '17 at 17:30
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    Your and my quotes from Sherrill are not in conflict. Yes, there is wide room for executive discretion in deciding who to include in official press briefings and a wide range of permissible motivations: space restrictions, preference for stability over time, selecting based on prestige/audience-size, decorum, etc. But, viewpoint-based restrictions on privileges extended by the government are not permissible (with some exceptions for government speech and government-subsidized programs). It would be hard to prove & I don't claim it is even close to proven in this case, but that is the standard. – K-C Feb 25 '17 at 18:21

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