Five journalists -- Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek; Allen Lengel of The Washington Post; Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today; and James Swart, formerly of CBS News -- now risk being held in contempt of court if they refuse to comply with the judge's order.
Walton called Hatfill's case "strikingly similar" to that of Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear scientist investigated for espionage in 1999.
Like Hatfill, Lee brought a claim against the government under the Privacy Act and subpoenaed journalists to find out who in the government had leaked them information. The journalists in the Lee case were held in contempt of court and heavy daily fines were assessed against them by the judge, though the fines were stayed while the reporters appealed. Lee eventually agreed to settle his claim, and in an unprecedented arrangement, the media companies that employed the journalists agreed to contribute money to the settlement.
In the Hatfill decision Monday, Walton refused to recognize a federal common law privilege for journalists to decline to reveal their sources.
Walton said doing so "would erect a potentially insurmountable hurdle for a Privacy Act litigant seeking to hold the government accountable for leaks condemned by the Act."
The next item isn't new but its also related to a constitutional amendment. This 2003 GAO briefing for Congressman Markey titled DOE Reimbursement of Contractor Litigation Costs discusses the assertion of immunity under the Eleventh Amendment:
- A state university that is sued in the course of its operation of a DOE facility may be entitled to assert immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and other immunity-related defenses, such as being exempt from punitive damages under state law. (3) Whether a particular state university is entitled to assert such defenses depends on whether it qualifies as a state entity, which in turn depends on a variety of factors, such as whether the state is liable for judgments against the university, the nature of the functions the university is performing, and whether the university is a separate incorporated entity.
- The University of California is the only DOE contractor to use immunity as a defense. Officials at the university, which operates three DOE facilities—Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory—estimated that the university used Eleventh Amendment immunity in 8 of about 35 federal cases in 5-1/2 years. Also, officials at the University of California estimated that the university, in its role as a DOE contractor, has asserted other immunity-related defenses in at least 62 of about 137 cases, predominantly to defend against punitive damages.
Is the blog alive? Today was my first attempt to visit it, so I'm a novice at this sort of thing. I have the inside scoop on pending litigation that would be blog-worthy, regarding the inability of upper Laboratory Management to make a decision about a hiring action due to a near-relative concern. It's been 9 months, and still no answer. Yes or no, is it so hard? It's a wonderful case study of institutional paralysis. The employee's promotion hasn't been declined, just thrown in the swamp to decompose and create more bureaucratic stench... Sincerely, Anonymous