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Home > Public Policy > First Amendment > Tracking the Federal Shield Law

Tracking the Federal Shield Law

Member Resources 4



About the Bills

H.R. 1962 / S. 987 



Tools for Taking Action

Media coalition letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (June 11, 2014)

Media coalition letter to Senate Judiciary Committee (Sept. 9, 2013)

Media coalition letter to Senate Judiciary Committee (July 26, 2013)

Sample letter to representatives and senators on H.R. 1962/S. 987

Op-ed by NAA President and CEO Caroline H. Little

Struggling to Report: The Fight for a Federal Shield Law (Society of Professional Journalists)



Media Coverage

Rieder: Shield law for journalists a gridlock casualty
USA Today (September 23, 2014)

Udall Urges Congress to Establish Federal Shield Law, Safeguard First Amendment's Promise of a Free Press
Press Release (July 29, 2014)

Media seeks Senate vote on shield law
Politico (June 11, 2014)

Supreme Court Avoids Issue of Journalists' Right to Protect Sources
Wall Street Journal (June 2, 2014)

Time to pass shield law for journalists
The USA Today (May 29, 2014)

Democracy Demands a Journalist-Source Shield Law
The Daily Beast (April 15, 2014)

A Poison Pill for the Federal Shield Law
The Huffington Post (April 1, 2014)

Schumer predicts shield law will pass this year
Capital New York (March 21, 2014)

Major Media "Rallies" In New York To Urge Press Freedom From Government Spies and Protection for Sources
The Huffington Post (March 21, 2014)

Our View: Protect the free press
Erie Times-Press (Feb. 6, 2014)

Court rules in favor of N.Y. shield law for Fox News reporter
Politico (Dec. 10, 2013)

Don't shield government from watchdog reporting
San Francisco Chronicle (Nov. 22, 2013)

Editorial: For a national shield law
Albany Times-Union (Nov. 12, 2013)

Democracy depends on a free press
Miami Herald (Sept. 16, 2013)

Media shield law moves forward
USA Today (Sept. 12, 2013)

Senate Panel Approves Definition Of ‘Journalist’
Talking Points Memo (Sept. 12, 2013)

Editorial: Why your phone records need press protection; Shield law takes on new urgency in Congress
Arizona Republic (July 30, 2013)

Editorial: Congress needs to pass shield law
Greenville News (July 29, 2013)

Editorial: Congress needs to embrace media shield law in the face of a worrying assault on reporters’ First Amendment rights
Cleveland Plain Dealer (July 27, 2013)

Editorial: CIA leak case highlights need for shield law
Las Vegas Review-Journal (July 26, 2013)

Editorial: The war on journalism
Philadelphia Inquirer (July 26, 2013)

Editorial: A shield law to keep citizens informed
Santa Rosa Press Democrat (July 25, 2013)

Editorial: Prosecutors vs. the press; Needed: A federal shield law
Chicago Tribune (July 24, 2013)

Editorial: Congress needs to enact a shield law for journalists
The Washington Post (July 22, 2013)

Opinion: A shield law is essential to a robust press
POLITICO (July 8, 2013)

AP CEO to speak on seizure of AP phone records and the way forward
The Associated Press (June 12, 2013)

NAA Lauds Reintroduction Of Fed Shield Law
NetNewsCheck (May 16, 2013)

Plugging leaks the right way
Chicago Tribune (May 16, 2013)  

Eric Holder Challenged At Hearing Over AP Subpoenas, IRS Scandal
The Huffington Post (May 15, 2013)

Editorial: After Attacking The A.P., a Peace Offering
The New York Times (May 15, 2013)  

White House asks Schumer to introduce press shield law
Politico (May 15, 2013)

Criticized on Seizure of Records, White House Pushes News Media Shield Law
The New York Times (May 15, 2013)

Tracking the Federal Shield Law

A top public policy priority for NAA is enactment of a federal shield law that would enable journalists to protect confidential sources when subpoenaed in criminal and civil cases. In the wake of recent scandals involving the Justice Department’s secret seizure of phone records that swept in communications of more than 100 Associated Press journalists, and the monitoring of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal e-mail and cell phone records, this legislation is critical to protecting the free flow of information and the public’s right to know.

The Latest from NAA

75 media companies and journalism organizations call for a Senate floor vote on the federal shield bill to protect journalists’ confidential sources  (June 11, 2014)

Seventy-five publishers, networks, broadcasters and journalism organizations, including the Newspaper Association of America, have signed a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, to urge the Senate leaders to schedule a floor vote on the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) as soon as possible. READ MORE

Congress must pass a comprehensive Shield Law  (June 2, 2014)

Late last Thursday night Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) offered an amendment to an appropriations bill for the Justice Department and other agencies that stated:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a journalist or reporter to testify about information or sources that the journalist or reporter states in a motion to quash the subpoena that he has obtained as a journalist or reporter and that he regards as confidential.” READ MORE

Newspaper Association of America urges Senate to pass the federal shield law after Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of New York Times reporter James Risen (June 2, 2014)

The Newspaper Association of America strongly urges Senate leadership to bring the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) to the Senate floor for a vote after the Supreme Court declined to hear New York Times reporter James Risen’s appeal. This case highlights the continued need for a federal shield law and why action must be taken. Due to today’s decision, Risen could now face jail time if he refuses to reveal the identity of his confidential sources. READ MORE

Members Only: Backgrounder on Upcoming Supreme Court Decision on James Risen’s Petition for Certiorari (May 21, 2014)

NAA provides all members with notice of a potential decision by the Supreme Court that could impact consideration of federal shield legislation in Congress and whether a reporter would be able to protect a confidential source in federal court. READ MORE

Shield Bill doesn't license the media (April 8, 2014)

In recently expressing his opposition to the media “shield bill” (Free Flow of Information Act, S. 987), Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) made an outrageous claim: “If there is one thing I can glean from the First Amendment, it is that government should not be in the business of licensing the news media.”

Sen. Cornyn should know, since his home state of Texas has its own shield law, that the bill does not license journalists, nor does it raise First Amendment concerns. READ MORE

DOJ will soon finalize revised news media guidelines (Jan. 30, 2014)

Sen. Schumer asked when the revised guidelines will be finalized given that it has been more than six months since the report was issued. The report contained several proposed policy changes but did not include specific textual changes to the DOJ’s existing guidelines, which have not been amended since 1980. Attorney General Holder said that specific language will be available for public review and comment in a “couple weeks,” but that the DOJ is working as if the changes are already in place. READ MORE

The Senate must act to protect confidential sources (Jan. 23, 2014)

Last September the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) on a bipartisan vote of 13-5. The bill would help journalists protect their confidential sources in federal court by providing judges with clear and reasonable standards for reviewing subpoenas issued to reporters or their service providers. Now that the second session of the 113th Congress is underway, NAA and the 72 other media companies and journalism organizations advocating for a federal shield law are hopeful that the Senate will pass the bill soon. READ MORE

Five myths about the federal shield law (Oct. 30, 2013)

Free speech is the oxygen of the blogosphere. Blogs, tweets and Facebook posts couldn't have the profound influence they have rightfully earned in our new and diverse marketplace of ideas without a robust freedom to debate, to challenge, and even to be outrageous. So it's hardly surprising that when a congressional debate about protecting confidential sources mentions blogs, it touches a nerve.

That debate concerned the Free Flow of Information Act, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month on a bipartisan, 13-5 vote. If passed by Congress, the Act would be the first statute to protect journalists from being forced to identify their confidential sources in federal court. READ MORE

A Federal Shield Law is Needed to Protect Confidential Sources and the Public’s Right to Know: A Reply to David Pozen (Oct. 21, 2013)

JUST SECURITY BLOG – Contrary to what Dave Pozen argues, demands that journalists reveal their confidential sources in federal court will not be legitimized should Congress pass a federal shield law. The sad truth is that such demands – whether issued via subpoena or another form of compulsory process or in criminal or civil cases – have been happening for decades and will continue to happen whether or not a federal shield law is on the books. READ MORE

NAA applauds Senate Judiciary Committee for passing shield law (Sept. 12, 2013)

The Newspaper Association of America applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing this shield law, which is a critical first step toward protecting the public’s right to know. As recent events have clearly demonstrated, it is essential to protect both the freedom of the press and our national security through a balanced law that applies across all federal circuits. This bill will preserve the integrity of the news gathering process while still ensuring effective law enforcement. We believe this legislation deserves the continued bipartisan support of Congress, as it received in previous years. READ MORE

Media organizations back Free Flow of Information Act, sign coalition letter to Senate Judiciary Committee (Sept. 9, 2013)

Seventy-two publishers, networks, broadcasters and journalism organizations have voiced their support for the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) in a coalition letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The act would protect the public’s right to know by providing protection for journalists and their confidential sources in criminal and civil cases, while enabling law enforcement officials to get the information they need to investigate and prosecute crimes and keep the nation secure. READ MORE

NAA supports revisions to Justice Department regulations; continues call for federal shield law (July 12, 2013)

In the wake of revelations that the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Associated Press phone records and obtained e-mail content of a Fox News reporter, NAA applauds Attorney General Eric Holder's suggested revisions to DOJ regulations governing subpoenas to the news media and their service providers. However, a federal shield law is still needed to protect journalists’ confidential sources and the public’s right to knowREAD MORE

C-SPAN: Journalist Shield Law (May 25, 2013)

Kurt Wimmer, counsel for the Newspaper Association of America, talked about the the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, being sponsored by bipartisan members of Congress, and he responded to telephone calls and electronic communications. The bill would protect journalists from fines and jail time when they refuse to name confidential sources unless federal officials make their case in court. He explained existing similar protections for journalists and recent federal investigations of journalists at the Associated Press and Fox News.

Newspaper Association of America welcomes reintroduction of Free Flow of Information Act (May 15, 2013)

The Newspaper Association of America looks forward to the reintroduction by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of the Free Flow of Information Act, which was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2009. As events that have come to light this week have demonstrated, the public's right to the free flow of information – including on all matters of government conduct – is essential in preserving our unique American democracy. READ MORE

The Dept. of Justice Probes AP Phone Records (May 14, 2013)

On The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC: Caroline Little, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, discusses the Department of Justice's subpoena of Associated Press phone records as part of a criminal investigation, and what it means for freedom of the press. AUDIO

NAA President and CEO Caroline H. Little comments on the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press confidential telephone records (May 13, 2013)

Today, we learned of the Justice Department's unprecedented wholesale seizure of confidential telephone records from The Associated Press. These actions shock the American conscience and violate the critical freedom of the press protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Americans demand a full accounting. READ MORE 

Last Updated: September 23, 2014
First Published: July 29, 2014