CLARITY TO COME TO REPORTER-INFORMANT CONFIDENTIALIY?
Former U.S. Soliciter General Theodore Olson has an editorial
in today's OpinionJournal
discussing the case of his client--Time, Inc. and one Matt Cooper--which he is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will grant certiorari and hear.
Since I'm away from my office, I don't have my Van Alstyne's First Amendment casebook from law school, so I cannot recall with any certainty if I had perviously read any cases in the area of media and informant confidentiality. According to Olsen, the First Amendment protections afforded in this area are unclear. The Branzburg v. Hayes
(1972) case was one of those close calls with a concurring opinion thrown into the mix for the majority, resulting in little clarity on the issue.
I throw in with Olsen on this matter--and not just because he's representing a guy named Cooper. A qualified reporter’s privilege concerning disclosure of confidential news sources is important for a liberal, democratic society with a free press.
It is worth noting that Washington State's Attorney General Rob McKenna has joined with thirty-three other State AGs on an amicus brief in support of Time and Cooper. As he states in a recent press release
If reporters are unable to protect their sources, their ability to gather news is severely compromised. The First Amendment would be meaningless unless the law also protected the practical ways in which news is responsibly gathered.
Exactly. I applaud AG McKenna for joining the amicus brief and for his defense of an important component of a free press. (Chelan, WA)