SCOTUS deals blow to bad cops in Illinois


The Supreme Court sided with ordinary citizens when it comes to recording police officers on the job.

On Monday, the justices refused to hear a plea to allow enforcement of a controversial Illinois law which prohibited people from taping cops in action. msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell weighed in on the impact of this decision in the latest Rewrite segment on The Last Word.

“After the Rodney King beating, Chicago police decided to use an old anti-eavesdropping law to protect themselves–a law which basically made it a felony to record a conversation unless all parties agree to be recorded,” said O’Donnell, giving part of the back-story. “That, in effect, meant you couldn’t shoot video of Chicago police because, of course, video recording normally includes sound.”

By deciding not to hear the case, the lower court’s ruling stands by default. “The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rewrote the old law out of existence,” said O’Donnell.

He called it a “huge victory for the First Amendment.”

“The good police officers in this country, which is to say most of the police officers in this country, have no problem with the Supreme Court’s decision this week,” said O’Donnell. “Thanks to federal judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, some Chicago cops–the bad ones–have something new to fear, tonight: your video camera.”