The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to reinstate a Chicago law that sought to prohibit audiotaping police officers in public places.
The Chicago law made it a felony to record audio conversations of police officers in public places unless there was consent from the parties involved, reports Reuters. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law, complaining that it violated First Amendment rights.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the ACLU and blocked enforcement of the law. Without comment, the nation's highest court suggested it agreed with the 7th Circuit's decision.
The Cook County State Attorney's Office defended the Chicago police recording law, arguing that openly recording what police officers say on the job in public places deserved no First Amendment protection, reports Reuters.
The law was presumably in place so officers wouldn't face interference in carrying out their duties. Additionally, the ACLU had been pursuing a Chicago-area "police accountability program" and wanted the right to audio-record police officers.
In a 2-1 decision, the 7th Circuit in May found that the Chicago law likely violated the free speech and free press guarantees of the First Amendment, writes Reuters.
The lone dissenter, Judge Richard Posner, said that the 7th Circuit's ruling "casts a shadow" over electronic privacy statutes in general. That's because many states' privacy laws require at least one party's consent for a conversation to be recorded.
Despite the Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case, the Cook County State Attorney's Office does not appear to be giving up. An attorney at the office said they are still reviewing their options and will fight out the remaining issues in U.S. district court.
- Supreme Court silent on legality of videotaping police in Illinois (Examiner.com)
- Seventh Circuit Says Citizens Have a Right to Record the Police (FindLaw's U.S. Seventh Circuit blog)
- Citizens Can Record On-Duty Police Officers: 7th Cir. (FindLaw's Decided)
- Is it Constitutional to Impersonate a Cop After U.S. v. Alvarez? (FindLaw's Decided)