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Journalists' Privilege:

If you're interested in the subject and are in the D.C. area, you might want to check out this panel next Tuesday, April 29, at 12 noon at the Mayflower ($20, lunch included). Click here to register.

The panelists will be Prof. Lillian BeVier (Virginia), Prof. Lee Levine (Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz and Georgetown), our own coconspirator Erik Jaffe, and Andrew Hruska (King & Spalding); Rachel Brand, former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy will moderate. The event is put together by the Free Speech & Election Law practice group of the Federalist Society -- I'm one of the board members of the practice group, and I'm sure the program will be both interesting and balanced. Here's the brief summary from the e-flyer:

A number of high profile court orders in the recent past have demanded reporters divulge confidential sources or face contempt charges. In response, both the House and the Senate have considered versions of a federal "reporters' shield" law to supplement the common law privilege often extended to reporters to keep sources confidential. This topic provokes a number of questions about the role of the press and whether it should be treated more leniently, the issue of who is "press," the proper balance of governmental confidentiality and the "public right to know," and the ability of law enforcement and national security experts to pursue leakers of confidential or classified information.

Is a federal reporters' shield law a good idea? How broadly should it reach? Should it protect professional journalists only or extend to ad hoc writers and bloggers, and if so, where and how is a line to be drawn? Are there other ways to balance reporters' and sources' interests with law enforcement? Is there a better mechanism than contempt to employ?

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