Leahy Urges Senate To Debate Media Shield Bill

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today urged Senators to proceed to debate pending legislation that would establish a federal qualified reporters’ shield law.  The Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, reported the Free Flow of Information Act last October, and Leahy has pressed for Senate consideration of the bill.  The House of Representatives has passed legislation similar to the bill reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

“I support the Free Flow of Information Act,” said Leahy.  “I hope the Senate will be permitted by the minority to consider this important legislative effort.  After months and months of delaying tactics and opposition by the Bush administration, the time has come to pass a federal shield law.”

In March, Leahy and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sent a letter to Senate’s majority and minority leaders requesting floor time for a full Senate debate on the bill, which would establish a federal reporters’ privilege to protect the exchange of information between journalists and confidential sources. 

The bipartisan legislation is supported by a wide array of media organizations including the Vermont Press Association, the New England Press Association, the Newspaper Association of America, the Associated Press, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, The New York Times Company, and The Washington Post.

Leahy spoke Tuesday on the Senate floor about the Free Flow of Information Act.  His prepared statement follows.

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