If Richard Nixon only had the Rehnquist court, he might well be a venerated president now and "Deep Throat" nothing more than a high-class porno flick.
Journalists' use of anonymous sources can be abused, but truth outing often ultimately requires that a government snitch be able to talk to a reporter with absolute confidence that his or her identity won't be revealed.
The former No. 2 man at the FBI, Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, offers a timely case in point. The Nixon administration would have loved to see Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein threatened with jail for refusing to finger the administration informant.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case of two reporters refusing to disclose who in the Bush administration "outed" Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative. Exposing a covert agent is a federal felony, but it's the reporters who are facing jail time. Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine have been charged with contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
No one should be facing jail, except the person who broke federal law by exposing a U.S. intelligence agent.
Since the high court has abandoned the First Amendment, it's up to Congress to pass the reporter shield-law protection introduced by Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.