The publisher of a memoir about President Donald Trump's family got a temporary restraining order against the book lifted by an appeals court that said the company doesn't appear to be bound by a confidentiality agreement signed by the book's author, Mary Trump, nearly 20 years ago.
The decision issued Wednesday by a New York state appeals court is a significant preliminary victory for the book's publisher, Simon & Schuster. But the restraining order against the author herself, the president's niece, was kept in place. Both Simon & Schuster and Mary Trump were sued by the president's brother, Robert Trump, over claims the book violated a secrecy deal that was part of a legal settlement over a will.
"While Ms. Trump unquestionably possesses the same First Amendment expressive rights belonging to all Americans, she also possesses the right to enter into contracts, including the right to contract away her First Amendment rights," the appeals court said. "Unlike Ms. Trump, Simon & Schuster has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights."
The appeals court judge, Alan Scheinkman, said the temporary restraining order against Mary Trump must also apply to her "agents," though he declined to rule that Simon & Schuster is such an agent, citing a lack of evidence.
The decision is hardly the end the story. A lower-court judge is set to hear arguments on July 10 on Robert Trump's request for a longer-lasting preliminary injunction that could block the book's publication indefinitely while the case is litigated.
Theodore Boutrous, Mary Trump's lawyer, said he will file a response in the lower court on Thursday in which he'll seek to get the restraining order lifted again.
"It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated and we look forward to filing our brief tomorrow in the trial court explaining why the same result is required as to Ms. Trump, based on the First Amendment and basic contract law," Boutrous said in an emailed statement.
Simon & Schuster said it was happy with the decision and praised the upcoming book as a "work of great interest and importance to the national discourse."
"As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and prepublication injunctions, and we remain confident that the preliminary injunction will be denied," the company said in a statement.
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