A month after a lawsuit challenging a gag order imposed on the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper, a judge has ruled the newspaper must pay $1.7 million in damages.
The Charleston County Circuit Court ruling released Friday means the Post and the Courier will no longer be able to withhold certain news articles or other newsworthy material from their online platforms.
The ruling comes amid ongoing litigation over the gag order issued by Judge Andrew S. Hanen last week that banned the newspaper from publishing articles critical of the Trump administration.
The Post and The Courier published several articles on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In a statement, the newspaper said the order was based on the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of the press, but the judge’s ruling is a setback to press freedom in the country.
“The First Amendment guarantees free speech and freedom of press for all Americans, but it also protects our freedom of speech from governmental censorship and the intimidation of news outlets that disagree with the president,” the newspaper wrote.
Hanen issued the gag ordering after the newspaper, which was founded in 1786, published articles critical to the new administration and its policies in the newspaper.
In the case, the Charleston County judge found the Post had violated the First and Fourth Amendments by publishing a story on President Trump and his relationship with Russia, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported.
Hanens order was part of an effort by the Charleston newspaper to obtain permission from the U.S. Justice Department to publish articles critical at the time of the 2016 election and in the weeks leading up to it.
The judge also ordered the newspaper to remove all references to Trump from the newspaper’s front page and to create a new page dedicated solely to the news of the day.
Hanels order, however, did not prevent the newspaper or its employees from publishing stories critical of Trump or any other administration official.
The Post and its owner, Katharine Graham, sued to overturn the gag, saying the orders violated First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of association and free speech rights of its employees.
The paper said it had complied with Hanen’s orders, but its attorney general, Chris Wray, disagreed with the decision, saying he would appeal.
HanEN’s order banned the Post from publishing material about any subject other than news and opinion, and prevented the newspaper and its staff from writing articles that could be construed as news articles.
The newspaper also must not publish any story on the Trump Administration, or any official or agency of the United States, other than that of the president, that does not contain material protected by the First amendment.
The decision was the latest in a string of lawsuits challenging the gag orders that the Post has faced in recent years.
The newspaper, along with the Post’s parent company, the Post Co., has been hit with lawsuits from former employees who say they were pressured to stop covering stories about Trump.
The lawsuits have also come from conservative media outlets.