WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted to pass H.R. 4330, the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying (PRESS) Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-03) and Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33) that would safeguard a free and independent press by establishing a federal statutory privilege to protect journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources and prevent federal law enforcement from abusing subpoena power.
“I’m delighted that the House Judiciary Committee passed my PRESS Act on a unanimous bipartisan voice vote,” said Rep. Raskin. “The constitutional promise that no law shall abridge the freedom of the press instructs us to protect journalists from government overreach and abuse of the subpoena power, and today this committee has made good on that promise. I’m grateful to Chairman Nadler for including this crucial legislation in today’s markup, and I’m thankful to my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for unanimously supporting its passage.”
“The First Amendment is essential to our democracy and to ensuring both a free press and an informed public,” said Rep. Yarmuth. “I’m so proud that our PRESS Act cleared the Judiciary Committee today and is one step closer to passage in the House. As the first Society of Professional Journalists member to be elected to Congress, I know how important it is that we protect journalists and their ability to speak truth to power without fear of retaliation or retribution. I thank my colleague, Congressman Raskin, for his leadership in pushing this important legislation through the committee.”
“I’m pleased that our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee agree that we must protect press freedom,” said Rep. Lieu. “The PRESS ACT by Rep Raskin and me enables journalists to exercise their constitutional rights without fear of interference from the government. I hope we can now get this bill to the floor for a vote and reaffirm our support for one of the most essential pillars of our Democracy.”
“The best journalists go where the news takes them and tell the unflinching truth and that is why journalists must be confident they can keep confidential their communications with and the identity of their sources,” said Daniel Schuman, Policy Director at Demand Progress. “The
PRESS Act, introduced by Reps. Raskin, Lieu, and Yarmuth, would provide a shield against governmental efforts to undermine acts of truth-telling as weaponized through the subpoenaing of confidential journalistic information, providing reporters with a legal protection available in most
states but not yet against the federal government.”
“The revelations of investigative journalists and the protection of their sources may be irritating to those in power,” said Bob Goodlatte, Former Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Rick Boucher, Former Chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet. “But journalistic inquiry allows citizens to hold our government accountable in the protection of our civil liberties. Walter Cronkite said it best: ‘Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy; it is democracy.’”
The PRESS Act has the endorsement of Demand Progress, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), News Media Alliance (NMA), News Leaders Association, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, Protect the 1st, Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a Senate version of the bill in 2021.
Rep. Raskin previously introduced a bipartisan federal press shield bill in 2017. That bill was based on a 2007 press shield bill (H.R. 2102) that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support on a 398-21 vote and was championed by then-Congressman Mike Pence.