WASHINGTON (CNN)– Journalists are blasting President Obama over his stance on proposed legislation that would protect journalists from having to reveal the identity of their sources.
In an email sent out late Friday, the Society of Professional Journalists expressed 'outrage' over President Obama's proposed changes to the shield bill that would protect reporters from having to divulge confidential sources in court.
"Not long ago, President Obama was a key supporter of this bill, but after one meeting with his national security team he appears to have been scared into making this poor decision," SPJ President Kevin Smith said in a statement. SPJ cited an event in April 2008, where candidate Obama threw his support behind the proposed legislation, the Free Flow of Information Act.
"President Obama was elected by the people, for the people. It's time for him to stand up and support legislation that gives those people the power to have better oversight of their government," Smith said.
The Society of Professional Journalists, which was founded in 1909, has boast over 10,000 members nationwide. Its Their mission to promote "the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press."
Lawyers for journalists have often cited a 1972 Supreme Court ruling to say they were protected by the First Amendment from having to testify about confidential sources. But in 2003, a federal appeals court judge said that ruling does not protect journalists.
Thirty-six states (including Washington, D.C.) have enacted some form of shield law, but there is no Federal law protecting a reporter's privilege, which the sponsors of the Free Flow of Information hope to correct.
–Ram Ramgopal and Katie Glaeser contributed to this report