(WBNG Binghamton) Following the Justice Department’s decision to subpoena the phone records of reporters from the Associated Press, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Tuesday he would reintroduce his media shield bill that offers legal protections to journalists engaged in newsgathering activities.
According to the news release from Schumer's office:
The bill was endorsed by both the Obama administration and the newspaper industry after lengthy negotiations led by Schumer in 2009.
While it is unclear whether the bill would changed the outcome in the AP phone records case since a national security exception may have applied, the bill would have set up a legal process for approving the subpoenas that would guarantee consideration of the public’s interest in protecting the freedom of the press. Prosecutors would have to convince a judge that the information at issue would “prevent or mitigate an act of terrorism or harm to national security.” The bill would also have compelled concurrent notice of the subpoena to the AP unless law enforcement could convince a court that special circumstances warranted a delay in the disclosure.
“This kind of law would balance national security needs against the public's right to the free flow of information. At minimum, our bill would have ensured a fairer, more deliberate process in this case,” Schumer said.
The bill was last considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2009, when it passed 14-5. The bill was cosponsored at the time by Republicans such as Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Johnny Isakson and former Senator Richard Lugar.