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PART IWhether the First Amendment provides a journalists privilege Congress and state legislatures may enact statutory privileges and federal and state courts may adopt common-law privileges Congress has not created a federal statutory privilege and the state in which this case was brought Florifornia has neglected to do so as well As for federal courts Federal Rule of Evidence 501 provides the privilege of a witness shall be governed by the principles of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of the United States in the light of reason and experience Fed R Evid 501 At common law courts have steadily denied the existence of any journalistic privilege with respect to grand jury inquiries Branzburg v Hayes 408 US 665685 1972 For these reasons the issue before the Court is whether the Constitution provides a journalistic privilege in the First AmendmentThe Supreme Court in Branzburg v Hayes held the Constitution does not as it never has exempt the newsman from performing the citizens normal duty of appearing and furnishing information relevant to the grand jurys task 408 US at 691 Rather the First Amendment provides in relevant part Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press See US Cont amend I Refusing to grant journalists a special testimonial privilege does not deny them the right to free speech nor does it restrict what the press may publish Furthermore the role of the grand jury in a criminal investigation is to promote fair and effective law enforcement the public interest in which is sufficient to outweigh any resulting burden on newsgatheringLike in the instant case the issue before the Court in Branzburg was whether journalists share the obligation of every citizen to respond to grand jury subpoenas and to answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation Id at 682 There petitioner Paul Branzburg a reporter in the course of writing a newspaper article observed
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