Journalists Shield Law Debated In Senate Committee


Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats were unable to get much Republican support yesterday for legislation that would make it harder for courts to order reporters to divulge their sources, despite making several changes to the bill, reports The panel adopted a changes offered by Arlen Specter (D-PA) at a markup session that would add more national security protections to the bill, which is known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2009.

Republicans have been skeptical of the bill's effect on national security. Under the measure approved yesterday, journalists would bear the burden of showing that it is necessary for them to withhold requested information when the court balances a request for journalists to divulge information. The bill's national security language would be expanded, giving the courts more power when ruling on requests involving national security issues. The bill would include more specific language on the qualifications for a journalist. Attorney General Eric Holder supports the changes. The House passed its version of the bill in March.

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