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Lawmakers push federal media shield bill

Supporters of a bill that would create a federal shield law for reporters are pushing to get the legislation to the Senate floor following the Supreme Court's decision to not hear New York Times reporter James Risen's case on Monday. 

The Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's ruling that Risen's status as a journalist does not grant him First Amendment protections from being compelled to testify about his sources of classified information. 

The ruling is a defeat for Risen, who is now facing jail time if he refuses to testify. However, shield law supporters hope it will spur the Senate to take up the bill. 

"This illustrates, in concrete terms, why Congress should move quickly," Society of Professional Journalists president David Cuillier in a statement. "Ultimately, this isn't about protecting Risen or other journalists. It is about protecting the ability for Americans to receive the information they need to adequately self-govern." 

More than 40 states have some form of shield law that protects reporters from being compelled to testify about their sources, but there is no federal law. 

Shield law supporters have long pressed for a federal version, but until recently there was little momentum. 

In a surprise vote last week, the House passed an amendment that would block the Justice Department from compelling reporters to testify about confidential sources. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a shield law bill last year after news reports revealed the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed phone records of reporters at the Associated Press and Fox News. 

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon.