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Backing Limbaugh, ACLU goes to court

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Rush Limbaugh and the American Civil Liberties Union do not agree about much, but they are in accord that the conservative radio commentator's medical records should be off-limits to prosecutors.

The Florida ACLU filed court papers yesterday supporting Limbaugh's argument that investigators violated his constitutional right to privacy when they seized his medical records in November to investigate whether he violated drug laws when he purchased prescription painkillers.

"It may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh," the state chapter's executive director, Howard Simon, 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."

State Attorney Barry Krischer had no comment on the ACLU's involvement. Spokesman Mike Edmondson said prosecutors have followed state laws and have protected Limbaugh's rights throughout the investigation. Limbaugh has not been charged with a crime.

Prosecutors say they cannot continue their investigation until they review Limbaugh's medical records, which have been sealed since Dec. 23.

Limbaugh's lawyers have asked an appeals court to keep the records sealed past a Jan. 23 deadline set by the circuit court.

Investigators went after the records and said they found that Limbaugh received more than 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion. Limbaugh's former maid told investigators she had been supplying him prescription painkillers for years.

Limbaugh argues that the investigation is politically motivated, an allegation that prosecutors deny. Roy Black, Limbaugh's lawyer, says the records would prove only that Limbaugh suffered from a serious medical condition and was prescribed painkillers.

Limbaugh admitted his addiction in October, saying it stemmed from severe back pain. He took a five-week leave from his afternoon radio show to enter a rehabilitation program.

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