Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Take this case to the next level

The United States D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 5-4 decision that Representative Jim McDermott should not have shared the audio from an illegally taped telephone call (which McDermott did not tape) with two newspapers:
The ruling upholds a previous decision ordering McDermott to pay House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, more than $700,000 for leaking the taped conversation. The figure includes $60,000 in damages and more than $600,000 in legal costs.

Boehner was among several GOP leaders heard on the December 1996 call, which involved ethics allegations against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. Gingrich, who was heard on the call telling Boehner and others how to react to allegations, was later fined $300,000 and reprimanded by the House.

McDermott, who was then serving on the ethics panel, leaked the tape to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The New York Times, which published stories on the case in January 1997.

In a sharp dissent, Judge David B. Sentelle said that under the majority's ruling, "no one in the United States could communicate on this topic of public interest because of the defect in the chain of title," that is, the fact that the tape was illegally obtained.
A detailed and informative history of the whole case is here. We urge Representative McDermott to respond to this ruling by appealing the decision. We'll gladly stand with him as he stands up for the First Amendment.

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