Tag Archives | Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

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Supreme Court Declines To Intercede On Behalf Of Reporter James Risen: What’s Next?

state of warNew York Times reporter James Risen, author of “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration”, won’t give up one of his sources, and now that the Supreme Court won’t hear his case, he could be facing some serious prison time. The Washington Post has a run-down on what’s likely to happen now:

So what does this mean for Risen’s case? Will the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter be sent to prison? What does he have to say about the decision? And how does this fit into the Obama administration’s war on leaks? Here’s a primer on what is going on, where things stand and what could happen next.

Who is James Risen?

Risen is a reporter for the New York Times who writes about national security issues. In 2006, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program.  He continues to write about national security, and published a front-page story Sunday about how the National Security Agency is intercepting massive numbers of images shared to social media platforms to use in facial recognition programs.

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US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders

Make no mistake, the US Supreme Court’s decision to remove limits on monetary donations to candidates for federal political office is a game changer. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the implications:

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections.

“There is no right more basic in our democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the opening of his opinion for the court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

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Citizens United 2.0: Major Supreme Court Ruling Will Further Expand Reach Of Money In U.S. Elections

supreme courtThe Supreme Court’s conservative majority feels that any limit on the flow of money into political campaigns is a violation of free speech, the New York Times reports:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down some limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the court’s more conservative justices in the majority, was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Dissenting from the bench, Justice Stephen G. Breyer called the decision a blow to the First Amendment and American democracy.

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Complicit Corruption: Calling Out the Supreme Court on Citizens United

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” – Thomas Jefferson

This past Wednesday, Kai Newkirk – co-founder of 99Rise.orgstood up during a session of the Supreme Court and (while being secretly videotaped, presumably by another member of his organization) made the following bold announcement:

“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy!”

This is the first time that video footage has ever been taken within a session of the SC (these sessions are open to the public, yet photography and recordings are banned) and Newkirk will face federal prosecution in March for having the balls to stand up in front of these crooks and say what everyone else is already thinking.… Read the rest

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Net Neutrality a “Dead Man Walking”

YDbRtWould you prefer the basic or premium internet package?

Via Wired:

Net neutrality is a dead man walking. The execution date isn’t set, but it could be days, or months (at best). And since net neutrality is the principle forbidding huge telecommunications companies from treating users, websites, or apps differently — say, by letting some work better than others over their pipes — the dead man walking isn’t some abstract or far-removed principle just for wonks: It affects the internet as we all know it.

Once upon a time, companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others declared a war on the internet’s foundational principle: that its networks should be “neutral” and users don’t need anyone’s permission to invent, create, communicate, broadcast, or share online. The neutral and level playing field provided by permissionless innovation has empowered all of us with the freedom to express ourselves and innovate online without having to seek the permission of a remote telecom executive.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Portion Of Voting Rights Act

voting rights actThe Supreme Court giveth some rights, and taketh others away. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A sharply divided Supreme Court has struck down a key part of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, freeing the Southern states from federal oversight of their election laws and setting off a fierce reaction from civil rights advocates and Democratic leaders.

The court’s conservative majority moved boldly Tuesday to rein in a law revered by civil rights groups that is credited with transforming the South by ensuring blacks could register and vote. In doing so, the court eliminated a tool that the Justice Department used hundreds of times to prevent cities, counties and states from adopting allegedly discriminatory voting rules.

Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pronounced the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance process a “resounding success” — and then declared it unconstitutional. The decision is likely to be felt in small towns and cities across the South, legal experts said.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Part of Defense of Marriage Act

The U.S. Supreme Court is making headlines today, first of all with it’s 5-4 decision regarding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The story is breaking everywhere, this excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a federal law that restricts the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples in a major victory for the gay rights movement.

The ruling, on a 5-4 vote, means that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples.

The court was due to decide within minutes a second case concerning a California law that bans same-sex marriage in the state.

The federal case concerns the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits. It permits benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and federal tax deductions only for married, opposite-sex couples, not for legally married same-sex couples.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Patenting Of Human Genes

 Patenting Of Human GenesGreat to know that I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyrights with my existence. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented and held for profit, a decision that medical experts said will lead to more genetic testing for cancers and other diseases and to lower costs for patients.

The decision invalidates a Utah company’s patents on two genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer, and is likely to lead to several thousand other gene patents being tossed as well.

The court’s decision also came as a relief to the biotech industry. While the justices agreed “naturally occurring DNA” cannot be patented, they also said DNA “synthetically created” in a lab can be patented. Industry lawyers had worried the court could issue a sweeping decision that would wipe out patents for genetically engineered drugs or farm products.

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