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SCOTUS won't hear fight between lawmakers over taped call

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  1. Libel and Privacy
The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a federal appeals court ruling, which held that a Democratic congressman who lawfully…

The U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a federal appeals court ruling, which held that a Democratic congressman who lawfully obtained an illegally recorded audiotape and gave it to the press violated state and federal wiretapping laws.

In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., held that Rep. James A. McDermott (D-Wash.) violated the civil rights of Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) by giving reporters from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times a tape of a conversation involving Boehner and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

The Reporters Committee, along with various news organizations, have followed the case since its inception, and signed onto a 1999 amicus brief in support of McDermott, arguing that the disclosure clearly was protected speech because disseminating the tape was a political act intended to convey information on a matter of public interest.