This comment suggests a test in civil cases that enables a court to determine if there is a first amendment interest in protecting a source’s confidentiality. If a journalist can demonstrate this interest, then the burden shifts to the litigant seeking disclosure. This comments suggests three criteria through which the litigant must persuade the court that the state’s interest outweighs the first amendment interest. The test suggested by this comment should increase protection for the first amendment interest by decreasing the number of disclosure orders issued and by giving journalists and their confidential sources a basis for predicting in advance of publication whether a disclosure order is likely. This comment argues that less frequent and predictable disclosure orders will reduce the deterrent effect of such orders, protecting the constitutional interest in the flow of information to the public.
Frank Van Dusen, The Dimensions of a Journalist's Shield—First Amendment Protection for the Constitutionality of News Sources Against Requests for Court-Ordered Disclosure in Civil Cases, 6 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 285 (1983).