Bartnicki v. Vopper

In Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001) 532 U.S. 514, an unidentified person unlawfully intercepted and recorded a telephone call between the president of a local teachers union and a union negotiator involved in contract negotiations with the school board, and several media outlets published the contents of the recording even though they knew or had reason to know the conversation had been illegally obtained. (Id. at pp. 518-519.) The Supreme Court held that under the circumstances the valid privacy interests in a private conversation gave way to the First Amendment protection of truthful speech about a matter of public concern. (Bartnicki, at pp. 533-535.) The court specifically declined to address whether the First Amendment would protect unlawfully intercepted messages concerning "domestic gossip or other information of purely private concern." (Bartnicki, at p. 533.)