Court Settles Fight Between Boehner, McDermott
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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As NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, it's a case about politics, free speech and privacy rights, and it may be the first time one member of Congress has sued another.
ARI SHAPIRO: The case started with an illegally recorded telephone conversation. A couple in Florida intercepted a conference call among Republican congressional leaders. One was Newt Gingrich, who was House speaker at the time. And the discussion was about allegations that he had violated ethics rules.
J: He, therefore, had no First Amendment right to disclose the tape to the media. Neil Richards teaches first First Amendment and privacy law at Washington University in St. Louis.
NEIL RICHARDS: The D.C. Circuit made clear that it was the role of McDermott on the House Ethics Committee, which has duty to confidentiality for its members and where the House itself had found that there was a violation of that duty - that that was the wrong here, not the illegal interception.
SHAPIRO: So does that mean the New York Times is breathing a sigh of relief today?
RICHARDS: I think so, unless the New York Times is on the House Ethics Committee.
SHAPIRO: Stanley Brand used to be counsel to the House of Representatives. He advised the member who first received the tape to hand it over to the House Ethics Committee. Now, more than 10 years later, he thinks this case will have little consequence beyond political bragging rights.
STANLEY BRAND: This case was always about the unique context that it occurred in, which was a fight under the dome between two political factions. And I think it doesn't really advance the law, the First Amendment, one way or the other.
SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
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