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Journalistsí Privilege: Overview of the Law and Legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses
Henry Cohen (au); Kathleen Ann Ruane (au)
Though the Supreme Court concluded that the First Amendment does not provide a journalistsí privilege in grand jury proceedings, 49 states have adopted a journalistsí privilege in various types of proceedings; 33 have done so by statute, and 16 by court decision. Journalists have no privilege in federal proceedings. On July 6, 2005, a federal district court in Washington, DC, found Judith Miller of the New York Times in contempt of court for refusing to cooperate in a grand jury investigation relating to the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA agent. The court ordered Ms. Miller to serve time in jail. Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail. She secured her release only after her informant, I. Lewis Libby, gave her permission to reveal his identity. This report discusses how Congress has considered creating a journalistsí privilege for federal proceedings, and bills to adopt a journalistsí privilege have been introduced in the 110th and 111th Congresses, in both the House and the Senate. These bills generally would provide for a more narrow privilege than the privileges provided by state laws. Three bills were introduced in the 110th Congress: S. 1267, S. 2035, and H.R. 2102. On October 16, 2007, the House passed H.R. 2102. In the 111th Congress, two bills have been introduced: H.R. 985 and S. 448. H.R. 985 was passed by the House of Representatives on March 31, 2009.
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