WASHINGTON – 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.
The 2-1 opinion upheld a lower court ruling that McDermott violated the rights of Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who was heard on the 1996 call. Boehner was then a Gingrich lieutenant and is now House majority leader.
The appeals court upheld a lower court ruling ordering McDermott to pay Boehner about $700,000 for leaking the taped conversation. The figure includes $60,000 in damages and more than $600,000 in legal costs.
In granting McDermott's request for a new hearing, the appeals court vacated the earlier judgment.
In a statement Monday, McDermott said he was elated at the latest twist in the long-running case.
"We look forward to presenting a vigorous defense of the First Amendment issues at stake in this case, and we believe there is precedent all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to support our position," McDermott said.
An attorney for Boehner could not be reached for comment Monday night.