Rep Introduces Legislation to Give Press Greater Access to Executive Branch

A resolution introduced by Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) calls for all briefings held by federal agencies or the White House to be made available to the press, except under circumstances consistent with federal law. Rep. Wild has framed this bill around the need for transparency between all administrations and the American people.

House Resolution 325 enumerates the history of the American free press and its role in safeguarding a democratic government.

Wild notes in a press release on the bill's introduction, “The freedom of the press was enshrined into our Constitution because the Founding Fathers knew that a free press is essential to holding our government accountable to the American people. Protecting a free and open press should not be a partisan issue. Every administration – Democrat and Republican – has an obligation to be accessible to the press and thereby the public… This resolution reaffirms Congress’ commitment to a free press and recognizes its vital role in our democracy, including the promotion of the highest level of transparency and accountability from the Executive branch.”

The resolution also bars the executive branch from preventing news outlets with different ideological leanings from attending press events.

Rep. Wild cites several District and Supreme Court cases which defend the right of the press to be present in executive briefings.

The resolution explains, “Courts have consistently interpreted the First Amendment in such a way so as to prohibit ‘prior restraints,’ or government actions that attempt to enjoin publication except in exceptional cases where the press would cause ‘inevitable, direct, and immediate danger to the United States’; U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected arguments that the Executive Branch has absolute discretion in deciding who is entitled to participate in a press briefing; and… U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has held that it is impermissible ‘to exclude a single … news network … and to withhold White House press passes in a content-based or arbitrary fashion’.”

The resolution has 23 Democratic cosponsors.

Posted in From the Hill

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