Magazine article The Progressive

The Wire-Tapping Evil

Magazine article The Progressive

The Wire-Tapping Evil

Article excerpt

July 1928

The five-to-four opinion of the Supreme Court last month ruling that federal courts may receive evidence secured by wire-tapping gives judicial encouragement to one of the most vicious methods of meddling with the privacy of individual citizens.

The laws of twenty-six states declare that it shall be a criminal offense to intercept a message sent by telephone or telegraph. An even larger number of states provide that telephone companies or their employees who disclose or assist in disclosing any message are guilty of a crime. The decision of the Court permits federal prohibition agents to take it upon themselves to commit crimes under the statutes of a majority of the states.

In his forceful and well-reasoned minority opinion, Justice Brandeis said: "Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizens. …

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