Confidentiality and Shield Laws Paper
Confidentiality and Shield Laws
In 1972, the United States Supreme Court was required to decide on whether or not reporters or journalists could be judicially served with a subpoena to reveal confidential information leading to the discovery of truth. This happened in the case of Branzburg filed against Hayes. At that time, Paul Branzburg worked as a reporter for The Courier Journal located in Louisville, Kentucky. He happened to write an article with reference to the hashish. Hashish was one of the most popular used during that time. To gather data for story he was writing, Branzburg decided to talk to a couple of people who had used the drug (Gant, S. 2007). Because using this kind of drug was considered illegal by the U.S. government, they agreed to share everything they know about hashish if Branzburg would promise to keep their identities highly confidential.
Branzburg agreed to the terms so that he would to get all the information he needs. However, right after the article was published, Branzburg received a subpoena from a grand jury which ordered him to make his sources identities public. He claimed it was his right not to speak based on freedom of the press as indicated in the First Amendment of the Constitution. He felt that he was protected due to his status as a reporter.
When this case reached the United States Supreme Court, perception was that the Court had a difficult time deciding on the case. The court ruled against Branzburg five to four. The press was declined the Constitutional right to keep confidential information in regards to protection of a person or a group of people whom the court believed to have an involvement in any criminal case (Fuentes, A. 1992 p.8). On the other hand, the court could not help but to acknowledging the fact that the government must persuasively trace significant connection between the data needed towards the...