(CNN) — A federal judge on Thursday held veteran journalist Catherine Herridge in contempt of court, fining her $800 a day for refusing to divulge her sources for a series of stories published in 2017 while she was a correspondent at Fox News.

Herridge, who has aggressively fought the case, is expected to appeal the judge’s decision. The case could have sweeping First Amendment implications for journalists and news organizations across the country.

Herridge, who left Fox News in 2019 and was recently laid off by CBS News, refused in September to disclose the sources used for her stories, defying a court order issued earlier in the year by the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The order from Judge Christopher Cooper 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 an investigation by the FBI. Chen, who was never charged, 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 reporting’s sources. Fox News and Herridge aggressively fought the move, arguing that Cooper should quash the subpoenas because of First Amendment protections afforded to the press.

But Cooper disagreed and ordered otherwise, stating that “Chen’s need for the requested evidence overcomes Herridge’s qualified First Amendment privilege in this case.”

That set the stage for a Sept. 26 deposition of Herridge, when the journalist was repeatedly asked how she obtained the information for her 2017 stories. Herridge politely declined to answer dozens of such questions.

In Thursday’s order, Cooper acknowledged that his decision would have implications for the press.

“The Court does not reach this result lightly,” Cooper wrote. “It recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society and the critical role that confidential sources play in the work of investigative journalists like Herridge. Yet the Court also has its own role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority.”

Fox News, in response, stood behind Herridge, warning that the decision could imperil the work of journalists.

“Holding a journalist in contempt for protecting a confidential source has a deeply chilling effect on journalism,” a network spokesperson said in a statement. “FOX News Media remains committed to protecting the rights of a free press and freedom of speech and believes this decision should be appealed.”

Herridge declined to comment and pointed to previous legal motions challenging the decision to hold her in contempt.

The judge’s decision had drawn criticism from First Amendment advocates and press freedom groups.

“Requiring journalists to reveal their confidential sources deters whistleblowers and others from coming forward, meaning the public has less access to information,” Caitlin Vogus, deputy director of advocacy at Freedom of the Press Foundation, told CNN last year.

The case has also renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation offering federal protections to journalists. In June, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the Protect Reporters from Exploitive State Spying Act, known as the PRESS Act. The legislation would offer important safeguards to journalists, including preventing the government from compelling reporters to disclose their sources.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox