Tag Archives | Supreme Court

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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Supreme Court Considers Whether Government Has Right To Log DNA Samples Of Anyone Arrested

Does your arrest allow the government to access your genetic information? Conservatives, and the Obama administration, say yes. Via CNN:

The U.S. Supreme Court offered a surprising amount of concern about states laws allowing police to collect a DNA sample of anyone arrested — but not yet convicted — of serious crimes. A ruling will be issued within a few months, and could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.

Privacy rights groups [say] the state’s “trust us” promise not to abuse the technology does not ease their concerns that someone’s biological makeup could soon be applied for a variety of non-criminal purposes.

“There is something inherently dangerous about DNA collection that is not the same as fingerprinting,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “How far do we let the state go each time it has some form of custody over you in schools, in workplaces, wherever else the state has control over your person?”

And civil liberties groups worry inadequate DNA testing by overwhelmed lab technicians can lead to errors, such as the one that sent Dwayne Jackson to prison for armed robbery.

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Monsanto Likely to Score Supreme Court Win with Far-Reaching Benefits for Corporate Farming

Picture: Viriditas (CC)

Jill Richardson writes at AlterNet:

On Feb. 19, 2013, the Supreme Court heard yet another Monsanto case. (And yet again, Justice Clarence Thomas, former lawyer for Monsanto, did not recuse himself.) This time around, it was Monsanto vs. Vernon Hugh Bowman, an Indiana soybean and wheat farmer.

The issue in question is a familiar one for those who follow the issue of genetically engineered seeds. Each buyer of Monsanto’s patented seeds must sign a “Technology Agreement” and pay a technology fee. In the case of soybeans, soybeans themselves are seeds. A farmer who plants Monsanto’s patented soybean seeds will grow a crop of soybeans, which are themselves also seeds. The Technology Agreement prohibits the farmer from saving and replanting those seeds. It also forbids the buyer from doing research on Monsanto’s patented seeds.

In some cases, Monsanto licenses its genetically engineered seeds to other seed companies, like Pioneer (owned by DuPont).

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An All Female U.S. Supreme Court

Proving, perhaps, that she takes extreme, radical positions on important issues, Justice Ruth Ginsburg says she wants an all female Supreme Court. From CBS:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hopes to see an all-female Supreme Court one day.

Ginsburg made the comment during a 10th Circuit Bench & Bar Conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder, according to CNS News.

“Now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay,” Ginsburg told the conference. “And when I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough and I say when there are nine, people are shocked.”

Ginsburg said that no one has “ever raised a question” when nine men were serving on the bench…

[continues at CBS]

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U.S. Supreme Court To Rule On Gay Marriage

Will the Roberts-led Supreme Court dare to stop the gay marriage juggernaut? This may be the week we find out, per this report in the LA Times:

After two decades in which gay rights moved from the margin to capture the support of most Americans, the Supreme Court justices will go behind closed doors this week to decide whether now is the time to rule on whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

For justices, the issue is not just what to decide, but when to decide it. In times past, the court has been faulted for waiting too long or moving too quickly to recognize constitutional rights.

The justices did not strike down state bans on interracial marriage until 1967, 13 years after they had declared racial segregation unconstitutional. Yet in response to the growing women’s rights movement, the court in 1973 struck down all the state laws restricting abortion, triggering a national “right to life” movement and drawing criticism even from some supporters that the Roe vs.

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