First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
 
Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001)  [Findlaw]

Secondary Link Bartnicki v. Vopper  [Legal Information Institute]
Argument Date 12/05/2000
Decided 5/21/2001
Supreme Court Vote 6-3
 
Issue"These cases raise an important question concerning what degree of protection, if any, the First Amendment provides to speech that discloses the contents of an illegally intercepted communication. Despite the fact that federal law has prohibited such disclosures since 1934, this is the first time that we have confronted such an issue."
 
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion Stevens, J.
Concurring Opinion Breyer, J. (joined by O'Connor, J.)
Dissenting Opinion Rehnquist, C.J. (joined by Scalia, J. & Thomas, J.)
Lower Court 3rd Circuit
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim sustained.
Oral Arguments Transcript
Oral Arguments  [Oyez]
Lawyers
For Petitioner
Jeremiah Collins

For Respondent
Lee Levine (for Respondents Vopper)

Thomas C. Goldstein (for Respondent Yocum)

For United States
Seth P. Waxman

Briefs
For Petitioner
Petitioner Bartnicki et al. (reply brief)

For Respondent
Respondent Frederick W. Vopper et al

Respondent Yocum

For United States
Seth Waxman, reply brief for United States

For Amicus
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (for Petitioner)

Dow Jones (for Respondent)

Liberty Project (for Respondent)

Media Entities & Organizations (for Respondent)

Representative James A. McDermott (for respondent)

Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU Amicus Brief

WFAA-TV et al. (for Respondent)

News Stories & Commentary
Halstuk, Martin, "Press Rights v. Privacy: A Pending Case May Open a Back Door to Prior Restraint" (Columbia Journalism Review)
Hilden, Julie, "A Case of Free Speech versus Free Speech?" (Findlaw 2000)

Hilden, Julie, "An Economy of Information in this Information Economy (Findlaw 2001)

Levendosky,Charles, "Media Wins Over Privacy in Narrowly Cast Decision" (Casper Star-Tribune, May 27, 2001)

Media Institute, "Publication of Intercepted Calls Is Protected, Supreme Court Rules"

Paulson, Ken, "Stolen conversations and freedom of the press"

Penny Hill Press, Congressional Research Service Documents, "The Right to Publish Lawfully Obtained but Illegally Intercepted Material of Public Concern"

Taylor, Phillip, "Congressman pursues case despite high court ruling on wiretapped conversations"

Tony Mauro Analysis
Odd lot of cases tends to favor First Amendment

Press rights outweigh privacy in wiretapping case, justices find

Opinion - Lower Court
Bartnicki v. Vopper (3rd Cir., 1999)

Other
Abrams, Floyd, SPEAKING FREELY: TRIALS OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT (2005), pp. 91-93

Gewirtz, Paul, "Privacy and Speech," 2001 Sup. Ct. Rev. 139
Hilmert, James, "The Supreme Court Takes on the First Amendment Privacy Conflict and Stumbles" (Student Note, Indiana Law Journal, 2002)

Levine, Lee, Overview on Freedomof the Press

Smolla, Rodney, "Privacy and the First Amendment Right to Gather News," 67 George Washington Law Review 1097 (1999)
Whitlow, Matthew A., commentary on Bartnicki v. Vopper (University of Dayton Law Review, vo. 27, 2002)

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