AAN Joins Leggett Supreme Court Appeal

Amicus brief filed last week

AAN recently agreed to join the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press’ amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Vanessa Leggett case. The brief was filed last week.

Leggett, a freelance writer, in January was released from prison in Texas after serving a sentence for contempt of court for her refusal to turn over subpoenaed materials.

“Amici Curiae urge this Court to explicitly recognize that the qualified journalist’s privilege protects Petitioner Leggett’s confidential sources and information, and that a balancing test should apply to determine whether compelled disclosure is appropriate,” the RCFP “friend of the court” brief states.

“Whether conceived as an explicit privilege or as a balancing test to further constitutional protections, the government must demonstrate that the specific, known information sought is highly relevant to the case, not merely duplicative or cumulative, and all reasonable alternate sources of the information have been exhausted. Otherwise, the presumption should be that the government is infringing on the protections afforded the press, and the public, under the First Amendment.”

Thus, the case does not involve the issue of whether Vanessa Leggett is a “qualified journalist,” but rather concerns basic First Amendment rights of all journalists not to divulge confidential materials.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Writers Union also joined the amicus.

For more information about the case, see this link: http://www.rcfp.org/leggett.html.