Posts tagged Supreme Court
Posts tagged Supreme Court
Adam Liptak, The New York Times:
The copyright case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, No. 11-697, arose from the activities of a Thai student who attended Cornell University and the University of Southern California. The student, Supap Kirtsaeng, helped pay for his education by selling textbooks that his friends and relatives had bought in Thailand at low prices and shipped to him.
A publisher of some of the textbooks, John Wiley & Sons, sued Mr. Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement, and it won $600,000 in the lower courts. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Supreme Court threw out that award and ruled that imported copyrighted goods were subject to the same rules as goods bought in the United States: owners of particular copies can do what they like with them.
The legal principle here is called the first-sale doctrine, where legally bought copyrighted materials can be resold.
Jennifer Waters writing on a case on the United States Supreme Court’s docket this year for MarketWatch:
At issue in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons is the first-sale doctrine in copyright law, which allows you to buy and then sell things like electronics, books, artwork and furniture, as well as CDs and DVDs, without getting permission from the copyright holder of those products.
Under the doctrine, which the Supreme Court has recognized since 1908, you can resell your stuff without worry because the copyright holder only had control over the first sale.
That’s being challenged now for products that are made abroad, and if the Supreme Court upholds an appellate court ruling, it would mean that the copyright holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it.
This could be pretty frightening.
Bill Mears, CNN:
The Supreme Court confirms the 73-year-old justice’s Washington home was burglarized earlier this month. It follows a February incident in which Breyer, his wife and a guest were robbed in his Caribbean vacation home by a machete-wielding intruder.
I hadn’t heard about the machete incident until now. Poor guy.
Adam Liptak, The New York Times:
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds for Popular Mechanics on a recent excellent Supreme Court decision:
Can police attach a GPS tracker to your car, or is that an invasion of your privacy? On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, in United States v. Jones, ruled unanimously that doing so is a search, meaning that it must pass muster under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This ruling may put a crimp in the use of this popular law-enforcement technique, but what’s really interesting is that it also may signal the court’s willingness to overhaul how it thinks about what constitutes a trespass on your privacy.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who joined the majority opinion, also wrote a separate opinion saying that future cases involving GPS data obtained, for example, from car manufacturers’ location services might raise Fourth Amendment issues. Fourth Amendment law bars unreasonable searches, and Sotomayor wrote that the notion of what constitutes an unreasonable search may change with technology. People may disclose a list of search terms to a search engine, but that doesn’t mean that tracking years of a person’s Web history can’t be construed as a search on the part of the government.
In a separate concurring opinion, four justices—Alito, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan—criticized the majority’s approach as unnecessarily limited by “18th century” views of property. Noting that there are many services such as cellphone tracking, toll-road records, and modern cars’ onboard data recorders that allow cars to be tracked without trespassing, these justices suggested the need for a broader focus on privacy issues. In this they, like Justice Sotomayor, seem sympathetic to the D.C. Circuit’s suggestion that when the government collects a lot of bits of data about you, it’s the aggregate of the data—the mosaic that it represents about you—that determines whether there is a search, regardless of the status of any particular bit.
Breaking news from Reuters:
The Supreme Court Monday ordered California to release tens of thousands of inmates or take other steps to ease overcrowding in its prisons to prevent “needless suffering and death.”
By a 5-4 vote, the high court told the nation’s largest state prison system to sharply cut its inmate population in stages over two years in one of the biggest prison release orders in U.S. history.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court majority that the medical and mental health care provided by California’s prisons had fallen below the standard of decency required by the Constitution.
Kennedy cited suicidal inmates being held for prolonged periods in telephone booth-sized cages, backlogs of up to 700 prisoners waiting to see a doctor for care and as many as 54 inmates sharing a single toilet.
Black guy — John Thompson — gets convicted of armed robbery and an unrelated murder (of a white man) in 1984 in Louisiana. He gets the death penalty.
In 1999, a month before Thompson was scheduled to be executed, it comes to light that there was a massive amount of evidence that the police hadn’t turned over to Thompson’s lawyers, all of which would have acquitted him. If this was on Law & Order it would be comical. Here’s what happened at the re-trial:
When all of what has just been related was brought before the Louisiana Court of Appeal, they vacated both convictions. It was the fifth case in ten years out of this prosecutor’s office to be overturned because of withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense. The armed robbery charges were dropped, but the prosecution decided to re-try the murder case. It took the jury just 35 minutes to find Thompson not guilty.
So Thompson sues the D.A. (Harry Connick, Sr. — yes, him) for failing to train his people properly. Thompson wins and is awarded $15 million dollars.
The Supreme Court handed down the ruling on the appeal today: they tossed out the verdict. Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said that the D.A. wasn’t responsible for a single action by a lone prosecutor (never mind the facts).
Disgusting. Dahlia Litwick, writing for Slate, has this to say:
I don’t think that the failure at the court is one of empathy. I don’t ask that Thomas or Scalia shed a tear for an innocent man who almost went to his death because of deceptive prosecutors. And, frankly, Ginsburg’s dissent—while powerful—is no less Vulcan in tone than their opinions. But this case is of a piece with prior decisions in which Thomas and Scalia have staked out positions that revel in the hyper-technical and deliberately callous. It was, after all, Scalia who wrote in 2009 that “this court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” It was Thomas who wrote that a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form had no constitutional claim.
The law awards no extra points for being pitiless and scornful. There is rarely a reason to be pitiless and scornful, certainly in a case of an innocent man who was nearly executed. It leads one to wonder whether Thomas and Scalia sometimes are just because they can be.
Slate’s article has a bunch more information about the facts of the case; if your’e at all skeptical, give them a read.
Via Kieran Healy, writing for Crooked Timber, who opened his post thusly:
J.K. Galbraith remarked that conservatism was engaged in a long search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.