Kiss for Cox

Regular readers of this column know we don't usually throw lotsa love in the direction of state Attorney General Mike Cox. But we just have to blow a kiss his way this week 'cause he's done a good deed for reporters throughout the land.

We're talking about a letter Cox signed urging passage of the federal Free Flow of Information Act (otherwise known as Senate Bill 2035). That's the measure that would establish a federal shield law and prevent reporters from being forced to disclose the identity of confidential sources except in some case involving national security or law enforcement.

Forty-nine states — including Michigan — have shield laws that establish the "reporter's privilege" to keep secret sources secret. The privilege "rests on a determination that an informed citizenry and the preservation of news information sources are vitally important to a free society," the letter, in part, reads.

Federal courts have been divided on the existence and scope of this privilege, causing confusion in different jurisdictions.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal shield law last year with all 15 in Michigan's delegation voting in favor of it. Now it awaits vote in the Senate.

As of last week, according to the Associated Press, attorneys general in 37 states signed a letter urging Senate leaders to do the right thing. Cox is one of them.

"I think it sends a powerful message when the top cop, the chief law enforcement officer in each state, the majority of them are supporting something. I think that carries a lot of weight on Capitol Hill," says Cox's spokesman Rusty Hills.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected].

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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