ACLU Encouraged By Bipartisan Support of Shield Bill

April 15, 2008 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – After reports that the three major presidential candidates expressed support for The Free Flow of Information Act, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the Senate leadership to use that momentum to bring H.R. 2102, the House-passed version of the bill, to the floor for a vote. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) all signaled their support for a federal shield bill yesterday, with Senator McCain announcing his backing in a speech and Senators Clinton and Obama adding their names as co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill.

The Free Flow of Information Act would shield journalists who want to protect their sources, in turn protecting the public’s right to know through a free press. Currently 49 states have shield laws in place but there is no federal statute. Administration officials who oppose any judicial oversight of the government’s subpoenas of the press recently voiced their opposition, stating the president would veto the Free Flow of Information Act if it were to be sent to his desk in its current form.

The following can be attributed Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“The support of all three major presidential candidates for this bill should not only be applauded, it should also be a call to action. This legislation has languished too long in the bureaucratic backchannels of the Senate. Though the Senate version of the Free Flow of Information Act is a step in the right direction, the version passed by the House provides much stronger protections. We’re urging the Senate to take up the House bill to ensure that the American public and the press have the most uncompromised protections possible.

“The Free Flow of Information Act is a bill that is as important as it is timely. Forcing journalists to reveal their sources hinders those who would come forward with news that could affect us all. Journalists must be allowed to do their job without fear of retribution. Together, an uncompromised press and an informed public are the foundation of a true democracy.”

To read the ACLU’s report on the need for a federal reporters’ shield law, go to:

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