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Shield Law

August 31, 2008
Because of the impending election, expectations are low that Congress will take action on any controversial legislation when it returns to work after Labor Day. That could increase the chances for enactment of an important reform that has been endorsed by both Barack Obama and John McCain: a federal "shield law" that would make it easier for journalists to protect confidential sources. No one in or out of newsrooms likes stories that are based on unnamed sources. At The Times, as at other newspapers, every effort is made to persuade sources to be identified and be quoted for the record.
July 28, 2008 | Scott Gant, Scott Gant, a Washington attorney whose practice includes constitutional law, wrote "We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age."
As the August recess for Congress fast approaches, supporters of a federal shield law for journalists are pressing for a vote on the Senate floor. A version of the bill, called the Free Flow of Information Act, passed in the House 398 to 21 in October, and now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised to take it up before lawmakers leave Washington for the rest of the summer.
May 7, 2008
The three major candidates for president now agree that Congress should pass a law allowing reporters to protect their confidential sources. Unfortunately, the current occupant of the White House still resists such legislation, which is why the Senate needs to follow the House in approving the Free Flow of Information Act by a veto-proof margin. That prospect was enhanced last month when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told newspaper editors that, like Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.
April 15, 2008 | Richard B. Schmitt, Times Staff Writer
Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said Monday that he supported federal legislation to protect journalists' confidential sources -- a position that puts him at odds with the Bush administration, which contends that the legislation threatens national security.
October 20, 2007 | TIM RUTTEN
The House of Representatives this week took a long step toward protecting the American people's access to a free press when it overwhelmingly approved passage of a federal shield law that would prevent journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources. The Free Flow of Information Act had bipartisan sponsors -- Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) -- and 176 Republicans joined 222 Democrats in supporting its passage 398-21.
October 17, 2007 | Noam N. Levey, Times Staff Writer
Setting up a potential confrontation with the Bush administration over press freedoms, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed legislation to extend new protections to journalists and their confidential sources. The so-called shield law would for the first time establish standards that limit the power of federal authorities to compel reporters to testify or to disclose documents and unidentified sources they have used in their reporting.
October 16, 2007
Today, the House is expected to vote on a proposal that Speaker Nancy Pelosi rightly calls "fundamental to our democracy and fundamental to the security of our country." The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 would require that federal courts join 33 states and the District of Columbia in recognizing the right of journalists to protect confidential sources. Contrary to what critics claim, this proposed "shield law" isn't a concession to special pleading by the news media.
September 16, 2007
Re "Sources of controversy," editorial, Sept. 11 Physician Steven Hatfill sued the federal government for the "intentional and willful" leaking of his name in connection with its investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001 that killed five people. He also sued the New York Times for libel, but he was unable to make his case because he could not show that the paper "knowingly published falsehoods."
September 11, 2007
It may not have been his intention, but a federal judge in Washington has underscored the need for Congress to join 33 states and the District of Columbia in recognizing a reporter's privilege to protect confidential sources. Last month, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that five journalists must disclose who in the FBI or the Justice Department told them that Steven Hatfill was being investigated in connection with the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001.
August 1, 2007
Today, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to take up long-overdue legislation to require federal courts to join 33 states and the District of Columbia in recognizing a reporter's privilege to protect confidential sources. Supporters of the proposed Free Flow of Information Act are willing to fine-tune in response to criticism from the Bush administration, business groups and privacy advocates, but a bad bill would be worse than no bill at all.
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