DC Circuit: Press Not Shielded

Originally posted 2005-02-15 11:44:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Another red hot AP story: The Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled that Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper and The New York Times’ Judith Miller have to testify before a federal grand jury about their confidential sources in connection with the Plame Affair:

“We agree with the District Court that there is no First Amendment privilege protecting the information sought,” Judge David B. Sentelle said in the ruling, which was unanimous.

That makes four of us. As I blogged last month, press shield laws, even where they are on the books — there isn’t a federal press shield law; the journalists here were asserting a constitutional right, not one based in legislation — are a bad idea. Journalists are no different from you and me. Not any more. Right, Jordan?

UPDATE: Welcome, fellow Instapundit readers. You too, Mom. Knew you’d hit my blog sooner or later. Via the How Appealling blog, linked to by Instapundit, here’s a link to the decision. My favorite part is exactly the point I have been making, to wit:

Appellants counter that Justice Powell could not have meant what the United States argues, as this would have given reporters no more protection than other citizens. However, they never make it clear why they are convinced that Justice Powell must have intended to give reporters more potection than other citizens. The Constitution protects all ctizens, and there is no reason to believe that Justice Powell intended to elevate the journalistic class above the rest. Cf. Branzburg at 690 (“the only testimonial privilege for unofficial witnesses that is rooted in the Federal Constitution is the Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination.”).

“Could not have”!? Indeed.

UPDATE: Speaking of Instapundit, he adds this link to Volokh’s website, which focuses on one conconcurring opinion that asks the musical question we all have been asking: What about the blogs? — as well as another concurring opinion that endorses a common law-based press privilege.

UPDATE: Via Coyote Blog, see the full and definitive analysis here at Beldar.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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2 Responses to “DC Circuit: Press Not Shielded”

  1. SharplyShiloh
    February 15, 2005 at 2:16 pm #

    How does this affect Apple’s pursuit of ThinkSecret.com?

  2. Ronald Coleman
    February 15, 2005 at 10:20 pm #

    If I were Apple, I would consider this a pretty positive development.

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