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46 Occasional Papers L. Sch. U. Chi. [i] (2005)

handle is hein.journals/unchoocp46 and id is 1 raw text is: Occasional Paper #46
Testimony on a Proposed Journalist-Source Privilege
to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
by Geoffrey R. Stone
Harry Kalven, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law
October 2005
I am delighted to have this opportunity to share with the Committee my thoughts on a
proposed federal journalist-source privilege. Over the past year, I have publicly criticized
members of the press for overstating their First Amendment rights and New York Times
reporter Judith Miller for refusing to abide by the rule of law. When journalists disregard
lawful court orders because they are serving a higher purpose, they endanger the
freedom of the press itself. At the same time, though, the rule of law must respect the
legitimate needs of a free press. A strong and effective journalist-source privilege is
essential to a robust and independent press and to a well-functioning democratic society.
The Nature of a Privilege
The goal of most legal privileges is to promote open communication in circumstances in
which society wants to encourage such communication. There are many such privileges,
including the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege, the psychotherapist-
patient privilege, the privilege for confidential spousal communications, the priest-
penitent privilege, the executive privilege, the Speech or Debate Clause privilege for
members of Congress, and so on.

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