Free speech: Illinois eavesdropping law declared unconstitutional

The Illinois Supreme Court held that a state eavesdropping law negated free speech and due process in throwing out the statute. The court wrote that the law criminalized the recordings of conversations that were obviously public including street arguments, political debates on college campuses and fans yelling at athletic events. (Reuters, March 21, 2014, by Eric M. Johnson)

A plaintiff in one of the cases before the court spent almost two years in jail for recording a Cook County court worker over the phone she believed was derelict in her duties. State lawmakers are now faced with the challenge of crafting a law that defends privacy without violated citizens’ rights. (The Huffington Post, March 20, 2014, by Michael Tarm, Associated Press)

In challenging the law, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in 2011, “In our brief, we assert that the ACLU has a First Amendment right to gather, record, and disseminate information on the performance of public officials and further that we may do so as part of advancing civil liberties by using the information in petitioning for redress of grievances. Moreover, we note that the ‘basic tools for gathering, recording, and disseminating expression are changing dramatically in free societies around the world.’” (The Dissenter, March 20, 2014, by Kevin Gosztola)