Utah’s senators still looking at federal reporter’s shield law

31 07 2013

The Senate Judiciary Committee will decide Thursday whether reporters should be able to keep sources confidential without having to go to jail.

The committee is taking up the Free Flow of Information Act, sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. The bill would create a qualified privilege for reporters, allowing them to protect confidential sources of information.

Utah Sens. Orrin G. Hatch and Mike Lee, both Republicans who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, haven’t made up their minds yet.

“Senator Lee is still evaluating the law and has not yet made a decision,” Brian Phillips, Lee’s communications director.

Hatch spokesman Matthew Harakal said he was not aware of whether the state’s senior senator had taken a position on the bill. He said he was “still taking a look at it.”

“We just have to wait and see tomorrow,” Harakal said.

The shield law was first proposed in 2006 and again in 2009, but both times it died. This year’s incarnation came after the Justice Department subpoenaed phone records from the Associated Press.

The proposed shield law would be similar to ones in 48 states. The bill would offer journalists a qualified privilege to not disclose confidential sources.

The bill is supported by journalism organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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