Legal Ramifications: James Risen v. U.S.

I believe that the ramifications of this case come down to which way the case is decided. As a lawyer representing the United States, I stand by the Constitution of the United States. The decision of this case will alter and shape our First Amendment for years to come.

If I were to win this suit, I would press the issue of national security. This appeal came from the debate of where we draw the line between national security and freedom of the press. Representing the United States it’s my duty to represent citizens’ rights and protections granted by the Constitution.  The last time that the Supreme Court weighed in on reporters and the issue of protecting confidential sources was in 1972 with the Branzburg .v Hayes case. At this point, no federal law exists to protect journalists from revealing their confidential sources. Issuing a federal shield law brings many questions and concerns to the table and could ultimately change journalism forever. Many will argue why journalists should get special treatment. Already, a fine line exists between reporting and ethics. Issuing a federal shield law will allow journalists to behave irresponsibly knowing that they will be protected.



James Risen vs. United States: Case Outline

James Risen vs. United States is a case that deals with a journalists right to the confidentiality of his sources. New York Times reporter, James Risen, is facing jail time for refusing to identify a confidential source. In 2006 Risen published a book titled, State of War, which makes several statements about CIA activities. It states that the CIA  carried out an operation (Operation Merlin) intended to delay Iran’s nuclear weapons program by having false blueprints sold. The case arose from a subpoena to Mr. Risen seeking information about his sources. Mr. Risen has refused to comply. Much controversy comes from this case and Mr. Risen’s right to the First Amendment.  The question remains whether the First Amendment provides protection to a reporter who protects the confidentiality of his/her sources. Most journalists would believe that this is an infringement of freedom of the press. I believe that Mr.Risen is going to continue to fight his right to keep his sources confidential.

Ethical Challenge Thoughts

In class on Thursday, we discussed the emotional MH17 plane crash. We were asked if these photos of the deceased passengers should have been published or not. Other photos shown in class included the Oklahoma City bombings photo of the firefighter holding a deceased baby. I feel that these images provide many emotions to individuals who were not involved in these heartbreaking scenes. These images also cause a lot of controversy. However, my personal opinion would be to not publish these photos if the victims face could be seen. I feel this is a respect issue, not only the victim, but also to their family.  People need to be aware of what is happening in the world around them. Publishing these photos show individuals that horrifying and traumatic events do happen. These photos speak the truth. In this case, I would publish the photos but make sure that the victims’ faces could not be seen/identified.

First Amendment without Freedom of the Press

I believe that each of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment are extremely important to us. Although, if I had to chose to live without one of these freedoms, it would be freedom of the press. I couldn’t imagine myself giving up my freedom and privilege to speech, religion, assembly and petition. Freedom of speech shapes the lives of many. It’s what gives individuals a voice and a way to communicate decisions and opinions. With the right to petition, individuals have the freedom to express their views on government and even ask for a change. Freedom of religion, is closely related to the separation between church and state, which is a concept very important to myself. Each freedom has its own significance, but if I had to choose, I could live without freedom of the press.

Responding Atty: James Risen vs. United States

Hello, my name is Amanda Stackhouse, and I am the responding attorney in the James Risen vs. United States case. The case 1463474_10202939998607154_939134198_n (2)outlines as follows:

New York Times reporter, James Risen, is the author of the book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (2006). One major error in the book mentions how the CIA carried out an operation intended to delay Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program by feeding it flawed blueprints. Mr. Risen was subpoenaed by the government, demanding that he reveal his sources. Mr. Risen refused, claiming that the book is based on a variety of sources that he would protect. Mr. Risen refuses to comply with the subpoena. The key issue coming out of this case, regards journalists having the privilege to protect their sources or not. Mr.Risen now faces the risk of imprisonment.

In a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Risen said that his refusal to give up the name was “for the future of journalism.”

President Obama recently discussed journalism and democracy stating, “Here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”

Some may argue that certain information regarding the government must be kept secret. Laws and regulations are placed in order to protect that. Journalists should not be punished for reporting “leaks” that may happen. Mr. Risen should in no way be forced to reveal the identity of his source. This goes against our freedom set up under the Constitution. The First Amendment protects several basic liberties, with the freedom of speech being one of them. Personally, I feel that Mr. Risen is being violated of his First Amendment rights. But the question remains, is James Risen within his legal rights to the First Amendment?

I look forward to keeping you posted on the proceedings of this case.