Waiting on the Shield Law

The Society of Professional Journalists has just put out a press release announcing their backing (with some reservations) of the shield law compromise worked out last week between the White House and the bill’s prime Senate sponsors. From the statement:

Although SPJ does not believe S. 448 is a perfect bill, the Society’s leaders carefully examined the proposed legislation, and on behalf of its more than 8,000 members, have decided to support the protections granted to journalists.

SPJ now urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass S. 448 quickly so that the full Senate can consider the piece of legislation that is vitally important to a free and independent press.

About that “quickly”: The Senate Judiciary committee meets on Thursday mornings. Republicans who have previously objected to the bill are demanding more time before it is brought before the committee for debate, amendments, and mark-up. In any case, the committee is expected to have its hands full with another bill tomorrow, chairman Patrick Leahy’s Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009.

While it’s possible that that bill could be out of the way in time for opening statements on the shield law before the close of business, it’s likely that the bill won’t go any further tomorrow. The committee isn’t scheduled to meet next week, meaning that the earliest the bill could see serious consideration is November 19.

So SPJ—and everyone else waiting on the bill—will have to sit tight a bit longer.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.