Appeals court vacates ruling in Boehner v. McDermott

Score one for Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) in his decade-long legal battle with House majority leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).

A federal appeals court has agreed to hear new arguments in a case involving an illegally taped telephone call leaked to reporters by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.

In an announcement late Monday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said all nine judges will hear McDermott’s appeal of the taped call case, which dates back nearly a decade. Arguments will be heard in September, the court said.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that McDermott violated federal law by turning over the tape recording of a 1996 call involving then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.

In granting a new hearing the appeals court vacated the panel’s 2-1 ruling that ordered McDermott to pay Boehner $60,000 in damages and over $600,000 in legal fees.

McDermott tends to spark a lot of emotion from both sides the political spectrum, and thus most people seem to approach this case from a partisan perspective. Republicans would be thrilled to see one of their most outspoken critics punitively pushed into bankruptcy by this case, while many Democrats defend McDermott as a whistle-blower who exposed Gingrich’s double-dealing and ultimately led to his resignation.

But the issue at stake here is really much more fundamental; it is about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I for one receive unsolicited information all the time — sometimes anonymously — and I can never be sure of its provenance. If McDermott ultimately loses his case it means I could be sued or prosecuted for publishing information that may have been obtained illegally, even if I had no part in, or even knowledge of the crime.

Wanna put me out of business? Slip me an illegally obtained legal document and then sue away. Imagine the chilling effect if journalists, bloggers and private citizens risked financial ruin for passing on information of vital public interest.

Here’s hoping that both McDermott and the Constitution prevail.


  1. 1

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    GOldy asked: So let me ask you this… why isn’t the NY Times just as guilty as McDermott here, since they published the contents of the recording? The fact is, if McDermott loses, they would be just as liable.

    Hey Goldy, Thanks for the forum but fuck you! Man that felt good. The NY Times is as guilty as sin. The NY Times will claim reporter priviledge on this. THe government doesn’t have the balls to prosecute. If they treated the reporter the wasy Fitzmas treated Judith Miller well…!

    BTW Goldy you still will not answer my question regarding you sitting on your fat ass and dithering and not running for the open school board position. Due to the inactivity of your lazy ass, your daughter’s “precious” Graham Hill school is being closed. Sometimes you are your won worst enemy.

    DJ come to his defense now!

    Nuff Said!

  2. 2

    dj spews:

    Janet S @ 7

    “Doesn’t sound like an innocent bystander to me.”

    Yes, but you are not exactly known for your analytical skills, now Janet, are you?

  3. 3

    Davi spews:

    So David by your logic if you buy something and it turns out it was stolen, you do not have to give it back

    My recollection is that a thief does not have title

    If Jim McDermott really wanted to make a statement, he should have turned the tapes over the House of Representatives on the floor

    Delbert makes a very good point that there are plenty of bipartisian issues that Jim McDermott could have been working on the past 18 years, and that Patty and Maria have had to do the heavy lifting for Seattle

  4. 4

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    Who wants to control our lives with taxes, strange laws and political correctness Pellet? Donkocraps. They are the party of Stalin!!!

  5. 5

    Janet S spews:

    After ten years, we pretty much know all the facts in the McDermott case. People in Florida set up an illegal wiretap, passed it along to McDermott, and he gave it to the NYT.

    We didn’t have the facts about Limbaugh, so it made sense not to jump to conclusions. Now it is clearer what happened. If you now want to jump all over him for bringing ED drugs into the country under a false name, then I guess you are right to do so. Seems like someone is after him, but he was dumb enough to get trapped.

    Murtha accused Marines of murder before knowing anything. If it proves out that they did nothing wrong, do they get a public apology? How do they get their reputations back? Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut. BUt that would have meant missing a news cycle and another chance to be idolized by the MSM.

  6. 6

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    LeftTurd: Where in the Palm Beach ORder does it say Rush Limbaugh was peddling drung. Another Shit-For-Brains canard from the prince of canards LeftTurd.

  7. 7

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    Rabbit Pellet: THe court decision does not let the air out of my tires. In fact it puts new air in them. It’s election season. When People wake up in America and see the fruitcake Seattle continually elects every two years, they will shake their heads. This is a wind in my sails. This is not a downer it;s an upper. People will say WTF, Jim who? Where is he from? Oh leftist Seattle. Figures!!!!

  8. 8

    Green Thumb spews:

    I’m glad McDermott is will get another day in court. I don’t know enough about the nuances of the law to make a guess as to his chances of success. Isn’t this particular court packed with Republican appointees?

    Goldy, is your opinion about the ramifications of a McDermott loss grounded in discussions you’ve had with attorneys specializing in “press” law? If not, such a discussion might make for interesting radio . . . and with a bit of marketing could draw journalism listeners.

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    The only people who will ever make the Stalin scenario a reality in our country is you right-wing fucks.

  10. 11

    REP Pat Kennedy [D-Bitchslap the Black Security Guard At LAX] spews:

    Democrats don’t need to follow the laws. Just look at us Kennedys!! We kill, rape, wreak cars, and do “waitress sandwiches”, and the dumb ass MASS Democrats STILL vote for us!!

  11. 13

    karl spews:

    Sorry, but he particpated in an illegal wiretap.

    All other issues about him aside, he broke the law, and should grow a pair, pay up and move on.

  12. 14

    Goldy spews:

    Karl… he most definitely did NOT participate in a wiretap. A Florida couple illegally recorded the call (they received a small fine), and passed the recording on to McDermott because he was the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, and thus needed to know that Gingrich was violating his ethics agreement.

    So let me ask you this… why isn’t the NY Times just as guilty as McDermott here, since they published the contents of the recording? The fact is, if McDermott loses, they would be just as liable.

  13. 15

    RUFUS Fitzgerald Kennedy spews:

    Currently the fact that the Feds could listen in on phone calls doesnt bug me. We do have to protect ourselves from the likes of McDermott. Bush should make wire tapping illegal if the dems win in 2008.

  14. 16

    Michael spews:

    I have some illegally obtained car stereos for sale. But don’t blame me, because it wasn’t me that stole them.

  15. 17

    LauraBushKilledAGuy spews:

    Looks like it has been a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad day for the traitors and cowards on the right. Limpdick Lush Flimbaugh gets outed as a limp dick druggie (again) and the Pretend Prez decides to cut and run from Iraq and Congressman For Life McDermott wins a case in court. You righties might want to stick your heads a little deeper in the sand than usual tonight to spare yourself dealing with the ugly truth!

  16. 18

    Anti-Goldy spews:

    When did you become an attorney Goldy? All of this legal wrangling of yours smacks of hyperbole — the truth is that McDermott got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, exploiting illegally obtained information for political gain. Don’t try and say he was some kind of neutral whistleblower — he had as much a stake in the story getting press time as the Florida couple who passed it on. Try googling the words: vicarious liability.

  17. 19

    Janet S spews:

    If McDermott was innocently in receipt of a tape that he wasn’t sure was legal, it seems like the thing to do is either take it to the House floor or turn it over to the feds for prosecution. He chose to give it to the NYT. Doesn’t sound like an innocent bystander to me.

  18. 20

    dj spews:

    Auntie-Goldy @ 6

    “the truth is that McDermott got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, exploiting illegally obtained information for political gain. Don’t try and say he was some kind of neutral whistleblower – he had as much a stake in the story getting press time as the Florida couple who passed it on. Try googling the words: vicarious liability.”

    Jesus Christ, Anti-Goldy. You don’t know what the fuck you are talking about, do you?

    BTW: have you visited your recruiter yet? Bush needs you…don’t be a yellow elephant like those assholes College Republicans at WSU. You are better than that aunti-Goldy…sign-up today!

  19. 22



    Sorry, but Gingrich was plotting the overthrow of our Constitutional government, and that’s public business.

  20. 23

    ivan spews:

    Karl @ 1:

    It’s a civil suit, you numskull. The question at issue is not whether McDermott broke the law. If that was the question, he would be subject to criminal prosecution. The question is: Is he liable in a civil suit?

    Maybe to you wingnuts it’s the same thing. We know the law means nothing to you lot.

  21. 24

    dj spews:

    After struggling to lift it tiny deformed head, the chromosomal abnormality YO used all his strength to squeak out (@ 13),


    Hang tough little guy. All of us at horsesass are praying for our favorite little aneuploidy. We love you!

  22. 25

    dj spews:

    das @ 12

    “As opposed to your skills dj which no man would envy.”

    Fuckin-a das, can’t you even write something that is gramatically correct? What a fucking dipshit!

  23. 26

    JDB spews:

    Puddy Rush Limbaugh:

    Who wants to control our lives with taxes, strange laws and political correctness?

    That would be the Republicans. And you forgot domestic spying, rising crime rates because they have ignored the leasons of the Clinton years, increase polarization, decreased respect abroad, and homeland security and National Park maitenance that is a joke.

    People wake up in America….

    Let’s face it, the last thing that would help wingnuts are for people to “wake up” in this country. That might realize that everything ever done by the Bush administration has been wrong.

  24. 27

    JDB spews:


    You mean Limbaughs. After all, Kennedy actually plead guilty. Limbaugh will deny doing anything wrong.

    And he is a limp dick just like you! Don’t know if his secret desire is to be pounded up the ass by a big black man like you, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  25. 30

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    Oh JustDimwittedBananabrains: If I only had Limbaugh’s money. I think you should google rising crime rates JDB.

  26. 31

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    Maybe JustDimwittedBananabrains you’ll see your good friends the illegal aliens are the reason for rising crime rates. Remember what I said about Pelosi? Google it on ASSes JustDimwittedBananabrains!

  27. 32

    JDB spews:

    Puddy Rush Limbaugh:

    Boy oh boy, you are having a bad day. Lay off the bad hooch.

    But thanks for the suggestion to “google rising crime rates.”

    Here is the search:

    And here are samples of the top two hits:

    However, in the autumn of 2001, the FBI Index revealed that the crime rate had rebounded, rising 2.1% since the year 2000. Experts and law enforcement analysts attributed the rising crime rate to the unstable national economy after the World Trade Center bombing on September 11th, an increase in the teenage population, and an increase in the flow of prison inmates back into the general population.

    During the Clinton administration, fighting crime was a top priority. The president invested heavily in state and local crime- fighting efforts, like hiring more police officers and expanding community policing. Crime plummeted dramatically — nearly 20 percent — to its lowest level in a generation. Murders, which had skyrocketed to an all-time high, dropped by more than 30 percent. In short, a wave of crime and violence that had plagued our communities since the mid-1980s was reversed.

    But the Bush administration has put the fight against crime on the back burner. Bush has cut funds for state and local law enforcement — repeatedly zeroing out funds for the same police hiring programs that helped drive down crime during the 1990s. His policies have forced many police departments — already hamstrung by the worst state and local budget crises since World War II — to reduce the size of their police forces and pull back on their community crime fighting efforts.

    Heck, not a single article on the first page of Google returns mentions illegal aliens. And that includes a Heritage Foundation commentary and a Freeper link.

    Boy oh boy, were you ever wrong! But thanks for being stupid enough to challange someone to google something without googleing it yourself.

  28. 33

    zip spews:

    McDermott’s “working the legal system” as far as he can with other people’s money. But the lefties continue to defend him on this one. Why should he skate? There’s not one solid reason why he should not pay up on this entire blog. You guys are blindly supporting him on this one. He might as well be in the House of Lords.

  29. 34

    Harry Tuttle aka voter advocate spews:


    The majority in the applicable Supreme Court decision emphasized that the principals in the phone conversation were public officials discussing matters of public concern. “One of the costs associated with participation in public affairs is an attendant loss of privacy,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote.

    The lower courts have erred by not heeding this emphasis.

  30. 35

    Smedley Butler, Brig. General, USMC, ret. spews:

    @34 Idiot, what is being argued is A POINT OF LAW . Get your head around that. The facts are not in dispute. The lower court erred in the application of the law. That is why is was sent back to them.

  31. 36

    das spews:

    Again it comes down to this: conservatives can understand leftoids but leftoids cannot understand conservatives; that is why you get comments sections like this in which leftoids hit a wall and offer up unrelieved bile and vulgarity along with the left’s favorite accusation of the right: you are stupid. There is something very dark and primitive in leftism; reminds me that when Stalin was thatchin his early supports in the show trials of the 1930s one technique was to pile on the accused with with worst vulgarity in the the Russian tongue; then when the accused broke gales of laughter would erupt from the accusers; something very dark and primitive in leftism.

  32. 37

    Harry Tuttle spews:


    The matter of the recording was dispensed with through a fine of the couple that recorded it. This nuisance suit was brought because the ‘thugs could not get their pound of flesh through the criminal courts.

    action against McDermott is for the supposed damage to Boner. All of the Congressmen who were participating in that call were public officials who were involved in a conspiracy to violate an agreement that Newt Gingrich had agreed to and was barred from discussing.

    If the courts follow precident on this Constitution matter, McDermott should prevail.

  33. 38

    LeftTurn spews:

    Yes Janet we’re after LimpDickLimbaugh – WE forced him to take OC. WE forced him to hire his housekeeper to go out and illegally buy thousands of pills for him. WE forced him to take those pills and doctor shop for more. It was WE who worried him so much he coudn’t get his small dick hard. It was WE who forced him to get a phoney Viagra perscription. It was WE WE WE. Lush is a republican and therefore has no culpability. It’s all a vast left wing conspiracy.

    You fucking hypocrite.

  34. 40

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Yes, I suppose Jim should have turned the tape over to the republican controlled House Ethics Committee…..


  35. 41

    Puddybud Michael Kennedy spews:

    Wow dj I see you founf a new word these last two weeks: aneuploidy. I was giving you credit for overcoming your down syndrome condition these past two years!

    Personally I want Jim McDimwitt back in court. Now the whole world can see the schmuck he is and wonder how Seattle can continue to return to the House this wonderful gem of donko mentality!!! Yes, JIm have your day in court!

  36. 43

    LeftTurn spews:

    This is a great thread because it offers DEEP insight into the tiny republican mind. Janet S attacks Jim because he’s a Dem on the very same day she defended Limp Dick Limbaugh and said we should let the courts do their job and not rush to judgment. This is a perfect example of the situational ethics the GOP believe in with all thier heart.

    Some of the knuckle-dragging, inbred trolls like Puddybutt and his ilk show why they vote republican. They are simply trailer park stupid and don’t understand the most basic legal concepts like the difference between a civil and criminal court.

    And last but not least, our famous trolls claim that Democrats get special treatment while Limp Dick Lush Flimbaugh was given a sweetheart deal for being a drug dealer, caught red-handed, and they LOVE that.

    Pay attention to this thread to learn how the tiny republican mind works. It’s very interesting but sad.

  37. 45

    Delbert spews:

    If Jim McDivot was a decent congressman, I wouldn’t care. He is a crappy one. He’s not even a very good Democrat. There’s plenty of bipartisan issues that he COULD be working on, even in the minority. ID theft, privacy issues, opposing UCITA, et al.

    Patty and Maria have to do the heavy lifting for Seattle to get funding. His name isn’t even mentioned in the transporatation debate, because he isn’t a factor. He’s a disgrace and the Republican poster child for donations. We should dump him.

  38. 46

    LeftTurn spews:

    Notice also that this whole charade has been an attempt by the GOP to take the focus off the fact that the tape shows Newt The Hoot trying to get around ethics laws. He was caught red-handed. He’s guilty. We heard it. And now the GOP wants to do what they always do, blame someone else for something they did.

  39. 47

    LeftTurn spews:

    The more I think about it, this is a good thing. Congressman For Life McDermott wins his seat every election by the widest margin of any sitting US Congressman. He’s absolutely untouchable. So no harm can come to him in this. On the other hand, the Newt The Hoot is trying to run for prez. So this coming back to light now can hurt him a bunch. I like it! I hear from Newt’s wife that he was waiting for LimpDickLimbaugh to bring him a stash of those little blue pills too!

  40. 48

    karl spews:


    If the ethics committee was so grossly republican controlled they would have hammered him. As they didn’t I dont think so.

    Truth is that congress and ethics have very little to do with each other.

    MsDermitt is just this weeks poster child.

  41. 50

    For the Clueless spews:

    I may be bit slow on this one however:

    Imagine a T-shirt with a picture of Daddy George H.W. Bush.

    Caption on shirt reads: “I should have pulled out!”

    Whew!!! That made my morning!!!

  42. 51

    rhp6033 spews:

    Goldy, I wouldn’t put it past Rove & Co. to do just that (slip you a bad document, and then fry you for using it). After reading about Rove’s tactics in a multitude of elections prior to the 2004 election, I’m convinced that is just what happened to Rather and CBS on the N.Guard memo problem. It is just too convenient that a conservative blogger has information on the spacing/fonts available for IBM selectric typewriters in the early 1970’s to be able to demonstrate that the memo was not authentic within hours of the story being published. The result? (a) CBS and Rather are discredited (rather was hated by the right-wing as being a force behind the downfall of Nixon), (b) most voters forget that the secretary to Bush’s commander said that although she couldn’t remember typing such a memo, it was consistent with the commander’s opinion at the time, and (c) all other news media was afraid to run any other stories on Bush’s AWOL experience with the N. Guard.

    Now Bush and Cheaney are letting the N.Y. Times have it with both barrells for printing a story on Federal surveillance of bank records, even though it was generally common knowledge for some time. But someone “leaked” classified documents to them? Gee, I wonder where they came from – the same place that confidential information about Valerie Plame’s CIA cover came from? It’s illegal for the N.Y. Times to print it, but not for the administration to leak it, because Bush can decide – after the fact – if the information could be disclosed or not??????

    Trying to keep up with Republican logic makes my head hurt. Kind of like living in an Alice in Wonderland world.

  43. 52

    wayne spews:


    Something which hasn’t got much press is the fact that documents from the Texas Air National Guard that are known to be legitimate, unrelated to George Bush but from the early 70’s, have been located by Mary Mapes. Those documents have the same formatting as the Bush documents; proportional spacing, etc. Therefore, the CBS documents cannot be shown false on that basis. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that CBS failed to properly check the provenance before they ran the story. However, the wingnut talking point that the documents were proved false on formatting grounds is not true.