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Organizations Must Be Able to Protect the Interest of Their Members

On May 17, the Authors Guild, with seven other organizations, filed a “friend of the court” brief encouraging the Southern District of New York to permit PEN American Center to continue its First Amendment lawsuit against President Trump. The Guild joined the brief to support the ability of organizations to bring lawsuits to protect the interest of their members—a crucial issue for the Authors Guild and many other advocacy organizations.

PEN America sued the President for violating the First Amendment by using and threatening to use government power to punish journalists and news organizations that reported unfavorably on his administration. The President’s lawyers countered by trying to dismiss the suit, claiming that Trump’s actions had not harmed PEN America itself and that PEN America therefore lacked the standing to bring the lawsuit.

The Authors Guild joined several other organizations on the brief, which argues that PEN America has been harmed because the President’s actions forced it to divert its resources from other activities to fight against his unconstitutional conduct. It is vital for organizations to be able to bring these types of litigation—especially here, where freedom of the press may be more vital and necessary now than ever before. The other organizations on the brief are the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Press Photographers Association, the Online News Association, Reporters Without Borders, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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