Pence, Boucher Again Eye Federal Shield Passage


The bipartisan team of House Communications, Technology & the Internet Subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) will try again to get Congress to pass a federal shield law.

They have introduced the Free Flow Of Information Act of 2009. If that sounds familiar, it is because the 2008 version of the bill of the same name passed overwhelmingly in the House (382 to 21), before getting bottled up in the Senate after the administration put on a full court press against it. The administration had threatened to veto the bill and then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey said "10 angels swearing on Bibles" in support of the bill would not change his view that it has major flaws
There are 37 co-sponsors of the bill, which protects journalists and their sources from government overreach, with carveouts for national security, and proprietary business and medical information.
Virtually all states have shield laws or case law protecting journalists, but numerous efforts to pass a federal shield law have failed over the past several decades.
The shield law bill was introduced with high hopes and bipartisan support in May 2007, with the last session of Congress thought to be the most likely venue for passage in decades, but problems arose over the administration's concerns over its impact on investigations related to national security and terrorism as well as the bill's definition of journalists covered--bloggers, for instance.
The bill as introduced Wednesday defines journalism as "the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public."

To read more, click here to B&C's story.