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High court declines to take reporters' appeal on confidentiality of sources

[JURIST] In a significant denial of certiorari Monday, the US Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from two reporters asking the Court to allow them to refuse to identify their sources and not risk facing fines or jail time. Matthew Cooper of TIME [JURIST report] and Judith Miller of the New York Times [JURIST report] face up to 18 months in jail for refusing to reveal their sources as part of an investigation into who revealed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame [Wikipedia profile], whose husband, US Ambassador Joseph Wilson [Wikipedia profile], had been critical of US policy on Iraq. After the DC Circuit Court of Appeals refused to rehear the case [JURIST report] in April, intervention by the Supreme Court was sought by news groups arguing for the need to protect confidentiality. AFP has more. In a statement Monday, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press [advocacy website] said it was "disappointed" and "troubled" by the ruling: "Because of the split in the federal and state courts, the decision not to hear the case leaves reporters with little guidance on whether or not they can assure sources that promises of confidentiality will be upheld in court. It also provides no guidance to the federal courts reviewing the reporter's privilege in at least four other pending cases.." Read the full text of the RCFP statement. The RCFP offers more on reporters and federal subpoenas.

The Supreme Court Monday did granted certiorari in five other cases, including Bank of China v. NBM, regarding whether plaintiffs in civil RICO cases alleging mail and wire fraud as the acts on which they base their litigation need to establish reasonable reliance and Whitman v. DOT, regarding whether the Civil Service Reform Act [text] prevents suits by federal employees in federal court asserting statutory or constitutional violations relating to their employment. Other cases are Hudson v. Michigan, Hartman v. Moore, and Texaco v. Dagher, consolidated with Shell Oil Co. v. Dagher. Read the court's full Order List.

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