In a long-planned hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr., announced his plans to reintroduce the Free Flow of Information Act to the House, after news broke this week that the Department of Justice secretly recorded two months of phone calls by Associated Press reporters.
The act, which would create a federal shield law for journalists, is similar to what exists in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
While journalists are protected at the state level, the federal government has no such law in place. The act would protect journalists from having to testify on information or sources collected as part of the news-gathering process.
The White House has asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a similar bill in the Senate, which he agreed to do. Schumer was a major proponent of the original bill.
The New York Times reported:
Called the Free Flow of Information Act, the bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan 15-to-4 vote in December 2009. But while it was awaiting a floor vote, a furor over leaking arose after WikiLeaks began publishing archives of secret government documents, and the bill never received a vote.