Federal Shield Law Passes Senate Judiciary Committee
October 4, 2007 at 4:46 PM (PT)
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a federal shield law for journalists. The "Free Flow of Information Act," -- introduced by Sens. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN) and CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT) in the Senate and by Reps. RICK BOUCHER (D-VA), JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), MIKE PENCE (R-IN), HOWARD COBLE (R-NC), and JOHN YARMOUTH (D-KY) in the House -- passed the committee by a 15-2 vote and now heads to the full Senate for a vote. The companion House version passed the House Judiciary Committee in AUGUST.
The bill safeguards journalists' sources from having their identities revealed in court except if disclosure is necessary to prevent "a specific case of terrorism against the U.S. or significant harm to national security that outweighs the public interest in newsgathering and maintaining a free flow of information to citizens." It would set national federal standards for shielding sources, rather than the present patchwork of 33 state laws and 17 other states with judicial precedent for shielding news sources.