Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



When the barrage of subpoenas began in early 1969, statutes of some states recognized an evidentiary privilege of journalists not to reveal confidential sources. In April 1970, the possibility of an additional protective avenue opened when the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted constitutional protection under the first amendment's freedom of the press clause. By March 1971, this decision had been upheld and extended; the highest courts of three states had ruled upon the claim to constitutional protection with widely divergent results; and at least three petitions had been filed for Supreme Court review of these decisions in the hope that certiorari, uniformly denied in earlier similar cases, now would be granted. This article will examine the decisions since April 1970 and suggest some implications flowing from them, particularly as they bear on the constitutional issues. As a prelude, it will seek to summarize the state of the law on newmen's privilege prior to April 1970.