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ACLU comes to Limbaugh's defense
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 01/12/2004 @ 5:00 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has received some legal support from an unlikely source: The American Civil Liberties Union.
The Florida chapter of the traditionally liberal legal group filed papers today in support of Limbaugh’s contention that investigators violated his privacy rights when they seized his medical records as part of a probe into alleged violations of drug laws in relation to use of prescription painkillers, the Associated Press reported.
“It may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh,” Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. “But we have always said that the ACLU’s real client is the Bill of Rights, and we will continue to safeguard the values of equality, fairness and privacy for everyone, regardless of race, economic status or political point of view.”
The organization said it wanted “to vindicate every Floridian’s fundamental right to privacy by ensuring that the state be required to comply” with the law.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office in Florida seized the medical records of four doctors who treated Limbaugh for “serious medical conditions and the pain resulting from them,” according to the talk-show host’s attorney, Roy Black.
“Unfortunately, because of Mr. Limbaugh’s prominence and well-known political opinions, he is being subjected to an invasion of privacy no citizen of this republic should endure,” Black said. “Let us make our position clear: Rush Limbaugh is not part of a drug ring. He was never a target of a drug investigation. He became addicted to a prescription drug during legitimate medical treatment. He has publicly admitted this problem and has successfully sought treatment, which continues today.”
Last month, Limbaugh was successful in getting the records resealed. AP reports Limbaugh’s attorneys have asked the 4th District Court of Appeal to keep the medical records sealed past a Jan. 23 deadline set by the Palm Beach Circuit Court.
Though investigators began their probe of Limbaugh weeks ago, he has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors say they cannot continue their investigation until they review Limbaugh’s medical records, AP reports. He is suspected of engaging in illegal “doctor shopping” for prescription painkillers.
Doctor shopping is the practice of looking for a doctor willing to prescribe drugs illegally, or getting prescriptions for a single drug from more than one doctor at the same time.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office began investigating Limbaugh after his former maid said she had supplied him with drugs. Limbaugh has admitted to an addiction to prescription painkillers and spent five weeks in a rehab program last fall.
“The issues raised in this appeal affect all Floridians, regardless of their political inclinations. As both the ACLU and we have stated, the seizure of Mr. Limbaugh’s private medical records without due process is not only a violation of Florida law and the Florida Constitution, but also a threat to everyone’s fundamental right to privacy,” Black said in a statement Monday.
Both Black and Limbaugh, on his daily radio show, have charged investigators with conducting a politically motivated “fishing expedition”.
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