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Center Argues First Amendment Protects New York Times Reporter

"The right of a free press is at the core of our democracy," said Reid Alan Cox....

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October 26, 2004

Reid Alan Cox / Marshall Manson


CFIF Files Amicus Brief in Reporters Contempt Cases

First Amendment Protects Against Forced Disclosure of Confidential Sources, Center Argues

Alexandria, VA — The Center for Individual Freedom has filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, arguing that the First Amendment prevents a federal prosecutor from forcing New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper to reveal the identities of confidential sources.

"The constitutional protections for free speech and free press, in one way or another, limit the authority of special counsel, prosecutors, criminal defendants, and civil litigants to compel newsgatherers and publishers to disclose confidential sources," the Center wrote in its brief.

The D.C. Circuit is hearing three cases on appeal from a lower federal court which held Miller, Cooper, and Time, Inc. in contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources of information about former CIA employee Valerie Plame. The lower court held that reporters were not entitled to any privilege in criminal matters.

"The right of a free press is at the core of our democracy," said Reid Alan Cox, the Center’s Assistant General Counsel and author of the brief. "And the media cannot report freely unless their sources are able to speak in complete candor, without fear of exposure or reprisal."

The Center has long been a strong defender of the First Amendment. Previously, it filed a similar brief in the case of Vanessa Leggett, an investigative journalist who was jailed for contempt of court for refusing to reveal her confidential sources. The Center was also a plaintiff in McConnell v. FEC.

The Center is a non-partisan, non-profit constitutional advocacy organization dedicated to defending individual freedoms and rights and protecting the free market.

  • To download a copy of the Center's brief, click here (pdf

[Posted October 29, 2004]