A federal shield law that would protect journalists and confidential sources from overzealous federal investigators passed the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
The bill was motormanned by, among others, long-time shield law advocate Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rick Boucher (R-Va.).
The bill was introduced in May with high hopes for the bipartisan effort that has a companion bill in the Senate, which has the backing Of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). The vast majority of states have shield laws or court decisions that protect journalists, but numerous efforts to pass a national law have fallen short.
"Today's vote recognizes broadcast journalism's rich history of keeping the public informed through quality investigative reporting and the importance of reporters having continued access to confidential sources," said National Association of Broadcasters Executive VP Dennis Wharton in a statement.
The ACLU was also praising passage: "It's encouraging to see that the committee recognizes the importance of this legislation, said Caroline Fredrickson, who heads up the ACLU's Washington legislative oOffice. "Freedom of the press is a core American principle and it should be fiercely guarded. Especially in light of the executive branch's repeated attempts to govern from the shadows, it is vital that we have an independent press that can expose unlawful government activities."