WEISS V. UNITED STATES, 308 U. S. 321 (1939)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Weiss v. United States, 308 U.S. 321 (1939)

Weiss v. United States

No. 42

Argued November 13, 14, 1939

Decided December 11, 1939

308 U.S. 321


1. The provision of § 605 of the Communications Act of 1934, that

"no person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any communication and divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such intercepted communication to any person,"

applies to intrastate as well as to interstate and foreign communications (over wires used for both kinds), and bars admission in trials in the federal courts of evidence obtained by interception of such intrastate telephone communications. P. 308 U. S. 329.

2. As Congress has power, when necessary for the protection of interstate commerce, to regulate intrastate transactions, there is no constitutional requirement that the scope of the statute be limited so as to exclude intrastate communications. P. 308 U. S. 327.

3. The broad and inclusive language of the second clause of § 605, quoted supra, is not to be limited by construction so as to exclude intrastate communications from the protection against interception and divulgence. P. 308 U. S. 329.

4. Held: Evidence of intercepted intrastate telephone communications which had been recorded by stenograph and phonograph was inadmissible in a trial in the federal court, and it was prejudicial error for the court to admit such evidence either by permitting the parties to the telephone conversation, who had turned state's evidence, to read the stenographic transcript, or by allowing the prosecutor to put the stenographic transcripts and phonograph records in evidence upon identification by the parties to the conversation. The divulgence of the communications under the circumstances here was not "authorized by the sender" within the meaning of § 605. Pp. 308 U. S. 329, 308 U. S. 331.

103 F.2d 348 reversed.

Certiorari, 307 U.S. 621, to review the affirmance of convictions and sentences of the petitioners upon indictments for using the mails to defraud and for conspiracy.

Page 308 U. S. 324

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