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Shield Laws

The freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not absolute. It is balanced with other social and individual interests, including the right of the accused to exculpatory witnesses and information. One of the conflicts between the U.S. press and the U.S. government relates to the journalist’s privilege to protect confidential sources as a constitutional or common law right. At present, the journalist’s privilege is not recognized as a matter of First Amendment law, although it is accepted in nearly all the states statutorily or judicially. This entry provides an overview of shield laws in the United States and explores how they compare with other countries’ laws and international law regarding journalist’s privilege.

U.S. Law

In the face of a judicial ...

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