NEW YORK—Attorney General Merrick Garland today limited federal prosecutors from using subpoenas, warrants, or certain court orders to seize reporters’ records in an effort to uncover their confidential sources in leak investigations. The guidance came following recent disclosures that the Department of Justice under former President Trump had sought to obtain the phone and email records of reporters from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, executive director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
“These rules are an important step forward, but it’s crucial that they be codified in law. This will help ensure that journalists can do the work we need them to do—shine a light on government conduct, inform public debate, and hold the powerful accountable—no matter which party is in control of the executive branch. For now, exactly how much protection the rules will provide will depend on how the department defines and interprets some key terms. But the Justice Department should quickly issue a formal regulation defining these terms more fully, and Congress should codify these protections in law and ensure they are applied to the entire spectrum of the government’s surveillance tools.”
For more information, contact: Lorraine Kenny, communications director, firstname.lastname@example.org.