The Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) is a federal shield bill that would protect the public’s right to know by protecting the identities of journalists’ confidential sources. The bill is expected to be brought to the Senate floor this summer. The legislation has strong bipartisan support. On September 12, 2013 the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 987 by a 13-5 vote. The bill’s original co-sponsors are Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and it has a total of 24 co-sponsors from both parties.
On June 12, 2014, the Shield Coalition, made up of dozens of media groups and journalists organizations, sent this letter (PDF) to every US Senator, seeking their support for this much needed and long overdue legislation. It has taken on even more urgency given that the Supreme Court recently declined to hear the appeal of journalist and book author James Risen of the New York Times after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his motion to quash a subpoena, issued in a leak prosecution, seeking the name of his confidential source. If potential sources, including government whistleblowers, fear that journalists will be forced to reveal their identities, these sources will not come forward, and the public will lose the ability to hold the government accountable.
The National Writers Union is a member of the Shield Coalition and a signer of the letter. We urge the Senate to pass the Free Flow of Information Act this summer.