Journalistic shielding

July 18, 2008
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Both of Indiana’s senators are pushing for passage of a federal shield law. Sen. Dick Lugar, a Republican, talked this week about making that happen soon and as recently as last week Senate leadership noted this may come up yet in July. Legislation out there, known as the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 2035) would create a reporter’s privilege at the federal level, bringing that U.S. law into line with statutes in most states.

Attorneys general in about 42 states signed a letter supporting the proposal, though Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter wasn’t one of them. He opted instead to do his own letter to Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, urging the federal law’s passage, noting that his position is statutorily created and not constitutionally established and his authority doesn’t extend to what the federal legislation would encompass. Our AG notes that the proposed federal shield law “does not add to, or subtract from, the Indiana law.”

Hoosier State Press Association general counsel Stephen Key sees significant benefit for Indiana from the proposed federal shield law, though. The current state shield law can be found at Indiana Code 34-46-4; it protects news reporters from disclosing sources and giving them a means of safety in state courts. But Key notes that federal law doesn’t pony up that protection, and the 7th Circuit has gone as far as saying it won’t recognize state statutes that offer the journalistic shield.

Key says passing this legislation would give those within Indiana’s press “better piece of mind in promises of confidentiality to sources” that will hold up in court. All courts at federal and state levels. Timing remains a question, even though the Senate has vowed to move forward soon. President George W. Bush has apparently threatened to veto the legislation, but presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama have both pledged their support. We'll see what happens.
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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