Catherine Herridge attends Paramount's White House Correspondents' Dinner after party at the Residence of the French Ambassador on April 30, 2022 in Washington, DC.

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CNN  — 

A federal judge handed down a rare and alarming court decision this week that could have significant implications for the free press in America.

Judge Christopher Cooper, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a ruling to compel CBS News senior correspondent Catherine Herridge to participate in a deposition regarding the identity of a confidential source or sources she used for a series of 2017 stories published while she worked at Fox News.

The order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Chinese American scientist Yanping Chen against the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Citing documents reviewed by Fox News, Herridge reported that Chen was the subject of a federal counterintelligence probe. Chen has alleged that federal authorities improperly leaked information about her, violating the Privacy Act.

In an effort to prove her case, Chen subpoenaed Herridge and Fox News, with the hope of unmasking the source(s) for the stories. Fox News and Herridge have aggressively fought the move, arguing that Cooper should quash the subpoenas because of First Amendment protections afforded to the press.