On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the implementation of an Illinois law that was meant to prohibit people from recording the activities of police officers by refusing to accept an appeal against a lower court order banning the law. The Justices left in place a lower court ruling that found that using the state’s eavesdropping laws against people who recorded the activities of law enforcement officers was unconstitutional.
The matter began in the courts with ACLU filing a lawsuit in 2010 against Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to prevent the prosecution of ACLU staff who monitor police officers perform their duties in public places. Those against the law blocked by the Supreme Court say that people can lose their freedom if they do not have the right to record the activities and conduct of police officers.
Earlier this year, a federal appeals court in Chicago had banned the authorities from enforcing the law agreeing with ACLU that the law “restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests.”
The legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, Harvey Grossman, said that the organization was “pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to take this appeal … The ACLU of Illinois continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.”