McDermott petitions D.C. appeals court

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is petitioning the full nine-member Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to hear his case involving a taped phone call between House GOP leaders.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) sued McDermott for invasion of privacy in 1998 after McDermott circulated a taped call between Boehner and other House leaders regarding an ethics charge against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Boehner, now majority leader, was then chairman of the House Republican Conference.

At the end of March, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District ruled 2-1 that McDermott unlawfully received the tape from a Florida couple who illegally intercepted the call in December 1996.

McDermott said that the divided ruling is “both unsound in principle and unworkable in practice and will chill the disclosure of truthful information on matters of public concern.”

A lower court also ordered McDermott to pay Boehner $60,000 in damages as well as his attorney fees.