Rick Boucher: Necessary for the Protection of Civil Liberties
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced the Protect Reporters from Exploitive State Spying, or PRESS Act, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), setting it up for likely passage on the House floor.
Prior versions of this bill, introduced by Protect The 1st senior advisor, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), and then-Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), passed the House in 2007 and 2009 with more than 400 votes. It has been promoted in years past, not only by the current Committee Chair and Ranking Member, but also by now-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Today’s rare and spirited agreement between committee members of both parties reflects their awareness of a serious concern. In recent years, there have been many media accounts of investigations by overweening prosecutors amounting to fishing expeditions into the notes, files, records, cellphones, laptops, and computers of reporters. Journalists from CNN to Fox News have been targeted under Democratic and Republican administrations. There have been suspicions of political motives in some of these investigations.
The PRESS Act would grant journalists in legal proceedings arising under federal law a privilege to refrain from revealing confidential news sources, with reasonable exclusions.
“The revelations of investigative journalists and the protection of their sources irritate the powerful,” said Rick Boucher, advisor to Protect The 1st who sponsored the bill when he served on the House Judiciary Committee. “But journalistic inquiry is absolutely necessary for citizens to hold our government accountable in the protection of our civil liberties.”
Boucher called on the House to schedule a vote and for past sponsors in the Senate to take up the measure as well.