Klobuchar was part of bipartisan group of senators to join together to work on the bill, which would help ensure a balance between the public’s interest in newsgathering and the ability of law enforcement to protect national security and public safety
Action paves way for vote in the full Senate
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today announced that her bipartisan legislation protecting freedom of the press passed the Judiciary Committee today, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate. Klobuchar was part of a bipartisan group of senators to join together to work on the bill, which would help ensure a balance between the public’s interest in newsgathering and the ability of law enforcement to protect national security and public safety. The legislation would also prevent future Administrations from rolling back new Department of Justice (DOJ) media guidelines that provide additional protections to journalists. Klobuchar cosponsored the bill with Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Tester (D-MT), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
“As the daughter of a newspaperman, I have always believed in the freedom of the press,” Klobuchar said. “Today’s action is important step toward ensuring we can protect the right to a free press without hindering law enforcement’s ability to protect national security and public safety.”
The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 sets up a legal process for approving the subpoenas that would guarantee consideration of the public’s interest in protecting the freedom of the press.
A summary of the original bill appears below.
Summary of Free Flow of Information Act of 2013
- Protects journalists and their employers from having to reveal information, including source identity, that a reporter obtains under a promise of confidentiality and in the course of carrying out newsgathering functions.
- Establishes a legal framework for determining the limited circumstances under which such protected information can be subject to compelled disclosure in court.
- Provides no ABSOLUTE privilege for journalists. In every case, the Government will have to argue to a court its need for the information at issue.
- Requires, in most cases, a court to apply a balancing test before compelling disclosure (public interest in disclosure versus public interest in newsgathering).
- Delineates exceptions when the journalist has no privilege against the disclosure of information:
- In classified leak cases: when information would prevent or mitigate an act of terrorism or harm to national security.
- In regular confidential information cases (where a classified leak isn’t at issue): when information would prevent or mitigate, or identify a perpetrator of, an act of terrorism or harm to national security; and
- In non-national security cases:
- when the information would prevent or mitigate death, kidnapping, and bodily harm; or
- when information was obtained by the journalist through observation or perpetration of a criminal act, OTHER than an act of leaking.