Time for a Federal Shield Law for Journalists

The New York Times editorial board supports a proposed federal shield law for journalists that is currently in the Senate. The bill, which would provide journalists with protections against having to reveal sources in federal court, also makes allowances for genuine needs on the part of law enforcement and security concerns. Despite those exceptions, the bill faces "near hysterical opposition from the Bush administration. ... The White House, as ever, is playing the fear card, orchestrating a barrage of warnings that the law would 'wreak havoc' on national security and 'completely eviscerate' the ability to investigate terrorism." But not all Republicans agree with the President. Indiana Representative Mike Pence countered, "The only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press." Nearly all of the States' Attorneys General have endorsed the bill, as have both John McCain and Barack Obama. A similar bill passed the House last autumn.