Magazine article The Quill

Court: Free Speech Out-Weighs Wiretapping Law

Magazine article The Quill

Court: Free Speech Out-Weighs Wiretapping Law

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court ruled on May 25 that a Pennsylvania radio host was within his legal rights when he broadcast an illegally recorded telephone conversation, resolving a case that had the justices weighing privacy against free-press rights.

The court said in a 6-3 vote that the First Amendment outweighs wiretap laws in the case of the host, Frederick Vopper, who aired a tape made by someone else.

"A stranger's illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority, according to The Associated Press.

The three more conservative justices filed dissents on the ruling, saying that the restriction being debated in the Vopper case was necessary to shield privacy.

"Surely the interest in individual privacy, at its narrowest must embrace the right to be free from surreptitious eavesdropping on, and involuntary broadcast of, our cellular telephone conversations," Chief Justice William H. …

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