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Illinois court: Eavesdropping law unconstitutional

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:45 a.m. CST

CHICAGO – Two related opinions from the Illinois Supreme Court have declared the state's decades-old eavesdropping law unconstitutional.

In the unanimous decisions released Thursday, the court found the 1961 Eavesdropping Act violates free speech and due process protections. They focus on audio recordings.

The justices took pains to say there is a legitimate interest in protecting truly private conversations.

But as written, it says the Illinois the law criminalizes recordings of conversation that are clearly public. It gave examples of a political debate on a college quad, fans yelling at a game or anywhere where someone is speaking loudly in public.

The court concluded "the statute's scope is simply too broad."

The two cases had separate opinions but reached the same conclusion. The cases are People v. Clark and People v. Melongo.

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