Now is crunch time to make the PRESS Act the law of the land before this Congress adjourns. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer now holds the keys to the bill's passage which is good news — Schumer has co-sponsored similar shield legislation in the past.
We’ve previously explained that the PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs, except in real emergencies. Schumer can be a hero to journalists everywhere by pushing it through the Senate.
As our longtime board member, actor and activist John Cusack, explained in an op-ed this week, “we cannot allow the government to surveil journalists and expose sources … if we expect journalists to expose corruption, speak truth to power, and print what the powerful don’t want printed.”
We urge everyone who values a free press to reach out to Schumer’s office and tell him that you support the PRESS Act — and then have your friends and contacts do the same. You can contact Schumer’s office and ask him to support the PRESS Act by calling (212) 486-4430 or using this form.
If you’re unsure about what to say, you can repeat this language:
Sen. Schumer – I urge you to advance the PRESS Act, legislation that was unanimously passed by the House in September. The PRESS Act would make permanent the DOJ’s new policy to shield journalists from being forced to give up sources and block government seizure of phone and email records. As you recognized when you co-sponsored similar shield legislation in 2013, these rights are essential in any functioning democracy.
The PRESS Act is vital to all who value the First Amendment, regardless of politics. Media outlets nationwide have urged the Senate to pass this legislation. As Schumer (joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham) wrote about his own shield bill almost a decade ago, the PRESS Act “would provide clear and meaningful protection at the federal level for journalists against improper intrusion into the free press.”
This cannot wait another decade — not with 2024 presidential hopefuls threatening journalists with arrest for not divulging sources. The time to act is now.