Multiple media have noted Senator Chuck Schumer’s confidence that a federal shield law (the first of its kind), the “Free Flow of Information Act of 2013”, will see enactment this year.
You can read the text of the bill here.
“It’s very, very likely the Senate will pass a bill this year,” Schumer said. “Just about every Democrat is for the bill. … We have five Republicans on record being for it, three of them are co-sponsors.”
But there are at least three substantial challenges to the bill’s efficacy. The first, a broad national security exemption, has received the most attention; it also might be an unavoidable feature of any politically palatable media shield. The second is that the bill normalizes the process of subpoenaing reporter records and, worse, displaces accountability from within the Executive across the Judiciary, Congress, and a Fourth Estate that has enthusiastically endorsed judicial review of subpoenas. This cost, identified by Dave Pozen, suggests that reporters might be better off with no shield at all. The third challenge is the massive loophole the bill leaves for acquiring reporter records via third-party service providers.