This is good news to those of us who find the Drive-By Media a little too imperial for our tastes. Ordinary citizens do not have a choice whether or not they can testify in a criminal case, and certainly are not able to withold information simply because they feel like it. The Press, however, has been throwing their weight around for some time pretending that the US Constitution's First Amendment somehow puts them above the law. They have even been agitating for an official federal shield law to allow them to be the ultimate arbiters of what is fit to print and what isn't - even if it is illegal, as the New York Times's publication of the NSA's phone database almost certainly was.
But do reporters have a right to withold information from judges in a criminal case? Let's review. The actual text of the First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I don't see anything in that Amendment allowing reporters to decide when they will testify in criminal cases and when they will not. Fortunately, the judge in this case resisted the media pressure and (correctly) found the same thing. Although I am sure the Press will appeal, this will hopefully prove to be a sobering impulse to a news media that is entirely too impressed with itself, despite the many documented failures of the Press to report the facts, such as Katrina, the Iraq war, the last two Presidential elections, the forged Bush Guard memos and others.
Hat tip to Matt Drudge.