In the current version of the Senate bill, a reporter associated with a professional or student media outlet is granted some ability to contest forced disclosure in criminal and civil cases, but would be forced to divulge information involving "properly classified" documents "reasonably likely to cause significant and articulable harm to national security" and in various criminal matters, likely failing to shield journalists in high-profile leak cases.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted against the bill in committee. This "legislation may have the effect of excluding certain persons from enjoying the added First Amendment protections the bill would provide, [so] I cannot support it," he told U.S. News in an email.
"[T]he judicial discretion set out in the adopted Feinstein amendment does not resolve my concerns," Lee said. "The extension of the bill's protections to a so-called 'citizen blogger,' a journalist who is not employed by traditional media outlets, is entirely subject to the judge's willingness to exercise discretion, after finding that doing so would be (a) in the interest of justice and (b) necessary to protect lawful and legitimate news-gathering activities. Thus, while for some the privilege is automatic and known in advance, those outside the favored status may only hope that a reviewing federal judge deems them sufficiently worthy of protection."
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