African journalist Simon Ateba argued in his suit that the White House policy for revoking press access violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. President Biden’s White House announced new rules in May that – for the first time – allowed for rescinding a press badge.
“Defendants violated Mr. Ateba’s First Amendment rights by changing the criteria for hard pass credentials to intentionally prevent Mr. Ateba from obtaining hard pass access,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants did so by adopting credentialing criteria specifically designed to exclude Mr. Ateba from eligibility. Such discrimination amounts to a content-based regulation and viewpoint discrimination against Mr. Ateba in violation of the First Amendment.”
Ateba says his press pass expired on July 31, and he has not been able to renew it. There are currently 975 reporters with White House hard passes. Hard passes allow journalists to come and go from the White House briefing room and press area freely.
Ateba, who works for Today News Africa, has been at the center of several briefing room blowups, including charging that the White House has discriminated against him and other reporters.