PEN America Files Court Brief in Support of Mary Trump Book
Brief argues that the book's subject matter is "of immense public interest"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — In a court filing overnight, PEN America—alongside the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press and the Association of American Publishers—argues that a book to be published by President’s Trump niece is of urgent public interest and should proceed without interference.
The president’s brother, Robert Trump, filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the book’s author, Mary Trump, and its publisher, Simon & Schuster, from releasing the book to the public. Trump cited a 20-year-old nondisclosure agreement from a settlement involving the estate of Fred Trump, the president’s father, as a reason for not allowing the public to see the contents of Mary Trump’s book. But this prior restraint amounts to an “outright book ban,” PEN America argues.
“There can be no doubt that the Book’s subject matter is of immense public interest; it is a first-hand account of the man who now holds the highest elected office in the United States government, from the perspective of a member of his own family,” PEN America argues in the amicus brief. Banning this book is “contrary to law and anathema to our ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ embodied in the First Amendment.”
Courts have previously viewed prior restraints of the kind sought by Robert Trump as the least tolerable and most serious infringements on the First Amendment. Given the heavy presumption away from allowing such prior restraints on speech, PEN America urges the court to deny the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.
“This is the second lawsuit in less than a month brought by President Trump or his allies attempting to hide information from the American public and an obvious effort to limit critical portrayals of the president from being closely examined by the public,” said Nora Benavidez, PEN America’s director of U.S. free expression programs. “Through and through, this is an unconstitutional prior restraint that the court should strike down as such. Never before has the Supreme Court upheld a prior restraint on speech about matters of public concern. A prior restraint, be it for one day or one month, is an unconstitutional affront to the author which limits the ability of readers to come to their own conclusions about its depictions.”
For nearly a century, PEN America has been at the front lines of the fight to protect journalists, authors, and other creatives to express their thoughts free from the threat of government harm or retaliation. Earlier this month, PEN America, with the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, filed an amicus brief opposing a lawsuit brought by the Trump administration that sought to bar former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing his forthcoming book. Bolton prevailed in the early stages of his case. In 2018, PEN filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for his retaliatory measures against media coverage he dislikes, which includes revoking journalists’ White House press passes and targeting outlets and other officials for speech he aims to suppress.
Click here to read PEN America’s amicus brief.