The National Association of the Deaf and five deaf Americans have sued the White House, arguing that the lack of a sign language interpreter at President Trump’s coronavirus briefings violates the First Amendment.
The association is seeking to force Mr. Trump and other White House officials to use American Sign Language, or A.S.L., interpreters during “television broadcasts of their coronavirus press conferences and briefings to make them accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing people.”
The lawsuit contends that the refusal to provide in-frame sign language prevents the plaintiffs from accessing the communications provided by their elected representatives, thus violating their First Amendment rights.
“Upon learning about the practice, Acting Secretary Wolf directed the DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate to immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press,” a department spokesman said in a statement. “In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter. The Acting Secretary is committed to ensuring that all DHS personnel uphold the principles of professionalism, impartiality and respect for civil rights and civil liberties, particularly as it relates to the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
The Justice Department had sought a temporary restraining order against Bolton and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, citing what it called the presence of classified information in Bolton’s manuscript. But the book already has been widely reported on, and it is scheduled to be released Tuesday.
“We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication,” the publisher said in a statement shared Saturday with NPR. “We are very pleased that the public will now have the opportunity to read Ambassador Bolton’s account of his time as National Security Advisor.”
The campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter last week threatening to sue broadcasters for running a “patently false, misleading and deceptive” advertisement paid for by the progressive political action committee Priorities USA. The complaint focuses on a bit of editing trickery: The ad, featuring footage from a rally, cuts from Mr. Trump saying “coronavirus” to Mr. Trump saying “this is their new hoax.” The president later argued he wasn’t calling the virus itself a hoax, but rather the Democrats’ attempts to “pin this on somebody” by lambasting the White House response to the epidemic.