The House of Representatives today voted 225-183 to approve an appropriations bill amendment that bars the Justice Department from forcing reporters to testify about their confidential sources.
"Advocates for journalists have tried for years to enact a federal 'media shield' bill allowing judges to quash such subpoenas," reports Charlie Savage at the New York Times. "The legislation, sponsored by Representative Allan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, has a long way to go before it would become law."
In related news, a former Fox News reporter this week shared more about his 2011 subpoena fight. In a report on the ABC News website, where he now works, Mike Levine explains that he was subpoenaed in January 2011 about his sources for a 2009 story. Levine fought the order, and the Justice Department dropped it in April 2012.
At abcnews.com, Levine writes:
It's unclear what that will mean for the Times' Risen, who is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on his case after a federal appeals court ruled against him. But in what might be the only other instance of Holder's Justice Department subpoenaing a reporter to testify about his confidential sources, federal prosecutors ultimately backed down.
"The reporter" in this second, previously undisclosed case is the author of this article. In January 2011, while I was working for Fox News, the Justice Department persuaded a federal grand jury in Washington to subpoena me for my confidential sources after I reported two years earlier that several Somali-Americans were secretly indicted in Minneapolis for joining an al Qaeda-linked group in Somalia.
Professional and personal life under the threat of jail for 16 subsequent months is best captured in a note I wrote to myself at the time: "I've felt like throwing up all day so far … Just that 'racing heart' feeling throughout."
Still, I felt I had to protect my confidential sources.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addresses reporters at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. on May 14, 2013. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
And again, from Charlie Savage's report at the Times:
The subpoena is the second of its kind to come to light under the Obama administration, which also has tried to force James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, to testify in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency officer charged with leaking to him.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Mr. Risen must testify. He has appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court may announce as soon as Monday whether it will hear the case.
[Thanks, Josh Stearns]
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