By Kim Hart - 10/16/09 11:19 AM EDT
As a law student, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) became interested in reporters' rights to protect confidential sources while arguing cases for moot court.
He's carried that interest to Congress, where he has helped pass the shield law legislation twice in the House. For that, he was recognized last night by The Media Institute, which awarded him its Freedom of Speech award.
Shield law bills have hit speed bumps in the Senate over the issue of whether a federal judge should have the power to decide whether to make reporter reveal sources by conducting a "balancing test," which weighs whether the public interest is being served by preserving confidentiality. "That wasn't even part of the discussion in the House, but it is the core of the debate in the Senate at this time," he said in his acceptance speech.
"I'm somewhat disappointed the White House hasn't been more supportive of the balancing test," he added. "So if you happen to see the President, mention it to him."
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), was also at the podium last night, introducing Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association who received the American Horizon award for his work uniting the U.S. technology industry.
Boucher said Issa is one of his favorite members on the Republican side and often goes to him when he wants to get something through the House Judiciary Committee, on which Issa serves.
"Darrell is a worthy opponent on issues on which we differ and a great ally we we agree," Boucher said.