IL Law Curbing Police-Talk Taping Likely Unconstitutional: Court


The Illinois Eavesdropping Act, one of the broadest restrictions on audio recording nationwide, is likely unconstitutional and may not be enforced against the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois when it records conversations of police officers openly engaged in their public duties, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled yesterday, says the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The ACLU sued as a First Amendment-based preemptive challenge, arguing that the threat of prosecution under the act chills the implementation of the ACLU’s police monitoring program. The ACLU records police officers without their consent when they are performing their public duties in public places and speaking at an audible volume. Judge Diane Sykes said the law “burdens speech and press rights and is subject to heightened First Amendment scrutiny.” Judge Richard Posner dissented, saying that, “The constitutional right that the majority creates is likely to impair the ability of police both to extract information relevant to police duties and to communicate effectively with persons whom they speak with in the line of duty.”

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