Tag Archives | Supreme Court

Supreme Court Lets Stand Student’s $675,000 Penalty For Downloading 30 Songs

Joel Tenenbaum

Photo: Joel Tenenbaum (CC)

That’s a penalty of $22,500 per song. Reports Mark Memmott on NPR:

the Supreme Court this morning let stand a $675,000 jury verdict against a 25-year-old Boston University student who downloaded 30 songs nearly a decade ago and then shared them with others on a peer-to-peer network.

The court denied Joel Tenenbaum’s “write of certiorari,” which means his appeal of a lower court’s ruling and the judgment were turned down.

Bloomberg News reminds us that: “The Recording Industry Association of America, acting on behalf of major record labels, sued more than 12,000 people and sent notices to thousands of others it claimed were illegally sharing music … Tenenbaum and a woman from Minnesota took their cases to trial, and both lost.”

Tenenbaum tells his side of the story at his Joel Fights Back website. He says he’s part of an effort to defend “the average Davids against the corporate Goliath.”

Wired says, “the significance of Monday’s action by the Supreme Court … appears to be minimal in the music-sharing context.

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Why Doesn’t The U.S. Just Start Electing Its Supreme Court Justices?

SCOTUSMichael Lind writes on Salon:

On Monday, we had another example of the Supreme Court’s ideological division: a 5-4 ruling, along partisan lines, giving police the right to conduct strip searches for any offense. This came on the heels of last week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, which led many observers to predict that the nation’s highest judicial body will strike down part or all of the controversial healthcare reform package.

But the hearings were instructive in other ways. They showed once again that political partisanship is closely correlated to a justice’s view of the law. And they proved that the Supreme Court once again is functioning, not as a court, but as a third house of the federal legislature.

The U.S. Constitution, like many state constitutions, really is two constitutions in one. There is the black-letter constitution, which consists of rules about which there is little or no dispute.

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U.S. Supreme Court Legalizes Strip Search For Any Offense

Anthony Kennedy (2009, cropped)Make sure you don’t jaywalk, ride a bike without a bell, protest anything, or otherwise upset a police officer, because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that you can be forced to strip naked for a visual search no matter how trivial your alleged offense. NPR reports:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that jailers may subject people arrested for minor offenses to invasive strip searches, siding with security needs over privacy rights.

By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled against a New Jersey man who complained that strip searches in two county jails violated his civil rights.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion for the court’s conservative justices that when people are going to be put into the general jail population, “courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security.”

In a dissenting opinion joined by the court’s liberals, Justice Stephen Breyer said strip searches improperly “subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy.” Breyer said jailers ought to have a reasonable suspicion someone may be hiding something before conducting a strip search.

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Justice Scalia Now Seems More Skeptical About ‘Obamacare’ Than Home-Grown Marijuana

Antonin ScaliaCan't make this stuff up. Reid Pillifant writes on Capital New York:
To some longtime observers of the Supreme Court, the surprising part of yesterday's oral argument wasn't that Justice Anthony Kennedy critically questioned the individual mandate; it was the harshly skeptical tone from Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, one of the court's most outspoken characters, has long been an originalist villain to those on the left, but there was a distinct strain of thought, at least among some constitutional scholars, that he might be inclined to look favorably upon the Affordable Care Act. That idea rested primarily on his concurrence in Gonzales v. Raich, a 2005 case out of California, in which the court found that the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce extended to marijuana that was grown at home solely for personal consumption...
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Why the Supreme Court Should Kill ‘Obamacare’

ObamacareToday, the anti-Obamacare protest is happening in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is hearing arguments as to why the Affordable Healthcare Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) should be thrown out. Dave Lindorff writes on Counterpunch on why “Obamacare” should be repealed to instead force Americans to decide that Medicare should be available to everyone as it would reduce our costs substantially:

The US Supreme Court has a chance to do the people of America a big favor, perhaps atoning at last for its shameful betrayal of the electoral system in 2000 when a conservative majority stole the Florida, and national election, for George W. Bush, and for the liberal-led and equally shameful betrayal of fundamental property rights in the Kelo v New London case that, in 2005, upheld the public theft of private homes in Connecticut on behalf of a government-backed resort development. The court can atone for these betrayals by declaring the ramshackle, corrupt, hugely expensive and cynically misnamed Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

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Koch Brothers vs. Health Reform

koch brothers exposedDo all roads lead to Koch?

Conservative activists will rally at the Supreme Court tomorrow to encourage the overturn of the Affordable Care Act. The “Hands Off My Health Care” protest—which will feature the likes of Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul—is being organized by Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group financed by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers provided the seed money to get this organization off the ground and have donated at least $5 million overall (possibly a lot more) to its operations. David Koch still serves as the group’s chairman.

These facts belie the image that Americans for Prosperity would like to present as a humble grassroots organization. The stories we see today about regular Americans coming to D.C. to protest evil health reform are directly attributable to the corporate interests that the Koch brothers represent.

Yet the Kochs’ impact on the current court battle doesn’t end there.… Read the rest

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Supreme Court Rules Congress May ‘Re-Copyright’ Public Domain Works

719646029Decades or centuries after its creator has passed on to another realm, a piece of art or film or literature may remain copyrighted content, perhaps forever, the Supreme Court has ruled. Ars Technica reports:

Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. In a 6-2 ruling, the court ruled that just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.”

The top court was ruling on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.

They claimed that re-copyrighting public works would breach the speech rights of those who are now using those works without needing a license.

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Bernie Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment

Warning that "American democracy in endangered," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday, December 8, 2011 proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted and secret campaign spending by corporations on U.S. elections. The first constitutional amendment ever proposed by Sanders during his two decades in Congress would reverse the narrow 5-to-4 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission. Show your support - sign the petition. Thanks Miles Jaffe for sending us the link.
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Supreme Court Troubled By Warrantless GPS Tracking

The SupremesI guess the justices of the highest court in the land (a.k.a. the Supremes) realized that the U.S. government has the power to watch any of them without any legal action … Mark Sherman reports in the AP:

The Supreme Court invoked visions of an all-seeing Big Brother and satellites watching us from above. Then things got personal Tuesday when the justices were told police could slap GPS devices on their cars and track their movements, without asking a judge for advance approval.

The occasion for all the talk about intrusive police actions was a hearing in a case about whether the police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. The outcome could have implications for other high-tech surveillance methods as well.

The justices expressed deep reservations about warrantless GPS tracking. But there also was no clear view about how or whether to regulate police use of the devices.

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U.S. Federal Court: ’1984 May Have Come A Bit Later Than Predicted, But It’s Here At Last’

Anti1984What are the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will restrict the use of GPS tracking devices in police surveillance? We’ll find out soon, reports Adam Liptak in the New York Times:

In a series of rulings on the use of satellites and cellphones to track criminal suspects, judges around the country have been citing George Orwell’s “1984” to sound an alarm. They say the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described.

In April, Judge Diane P. Wood of the federal appeals court in Chicago wrote that surveillance using global positioning system devices would “make the system that George Orwell depicted in his famous novel, ‘1984,’ seem clumsy.” In a similar case last year, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal appeals court in San Francisco wrote that “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.”

Last month, Judge Nicholas G.

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