Amendments proposed to federal shield bill

August 26, 2013 03:00

The Senate Judiciary Committee met briefly on August 1 and is expected to reconvene August 12 to consider proposed amendments to Senate Bill 987, the Free Flow of Information Act. RTDNA is continuing to ask its members and journalists across the country to contact the committee members and express their support of the legislation.

A coalition of media groups including RTDNA recently sent a letter to the committee, urging its members to pass the original version of the bill. Since then, an amended version of the bill has been offered and the groups are considering a response to the added provisions. In the meantime, the bill's sponsors will work with other members of the committee to possibly trim some of the offered amendments before taking a final vote.

The bill would create a federal shield law that would protect the public’s right to know by protecting the identities of journalists’ confidential sources. We need your help and support to encourage its passage. The most important action RTDNA members can take is to contact the members of the committee, to urge Members to support the original version sponsored by Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Its companion bill in the House (H.R. 1962) is sponsored by Ted Poe (R-TX).

The members of the committee are:

Patrick Leahy, Vermont, Chairman
Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Ranking Member

Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
Chris Coons, Delaware
John Cornyn, Texas
Ted Cruz, Texas
Dick Durbin, Illinois
Dianne Feinstein, California
Jeff Flake, Arizona
Al Franken, Minnesota
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
Orrin Hatch, Utah
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Mike Lee, Utah
Chuck Schumer, New York
Jeff Sessions, Alabama
Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island

Check out our Federal Shield Law talking points and contact the members of the committee, urging them to support the bill.

RTDNA is working with the Newspaper Association of America and a coalition of more than 70 media groups, as well as with interested members of Congress and the executive branch, to see if a federal shield bill can finally be passed in the wake of the AP records scandal.  The events that have come to light as a result demonstrate that clear, uniform standards – administered by an impartial judge – are needed for the compelled disclosure of confidential source information so that overly broad requests do not chill the flow of information to the public on important government issues.  Time is of the essence if we are to succeed in passing a bill.  The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.