Senate introduces another shield law

Samantha Fredrickson | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | February 17, 2009

A federal shield law that would protect reporters from testifying about confidential sources was re-introduced in the Senate on Friday, just two days after shield legislation was re-introduced into the House.

The Senate bill, S. 448, was introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). The bill is similar to a previous shield law that was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007.

“This legislation is very important to maintain the flow of information to the American people from the newspapers, radio and television stations,” Sen. Specter said in a released statement. “It is necessary because we have seen in recent times a flurry of subpoenas being issued to reporters to disclose their confidential sources, and a reporter’s source of information really depends upon their being able to fulfill a commitment of confidentiality.”

The Senate bill, like the House bill, has exceptions for national security, terrorism, and when reporters are eyewitnesses to a crime.

The House bill, H.R. 985, was introduced into Congress last week.

Both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have said they support a federal shield law for reporters.