In only the second case decided since the recent death of Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court today reached a decision [PDF] in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, deadlocking in a four-to-four tie that upholds an earlier circuit court ruling finding agency fees for non-union teachers to be constitutional, but that sets no precedent for future cases. [more inside]
A battle over triplets raises difficult questions about the ethics of the surrogacy industry and the meaning of parenthood. (slSlate)
Oral arguments were heard on Monday in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to invoke their First Amendment right to free speech to avoid being compelled to pay their share of the costs of union representation. Summarizing the oral arguments for SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe notes that "public-employee unions are likely very nervous, as the Court’s more conservative Justices appeared ready to overrule the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and strike down the fees." [more inside]
The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods — a ProPublica investigation into racial disparities in debt collection lawsuits [more inside]
PatentsView is a new patent data visualization platform from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The PatentsView beta search tool allows members of the public to interact with nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States. Users can explore technological, regional, and individual-level patent trends via search filters with multiple viewing options. The database links inventors, their organizations, locations, and overall patenting activity using enhanced 1976-2014 data from public USPTO bulk data files.
Wait, Women Don't Have Equal Rights in the United States? - Tabby Biddle, Huffington Post. The History Behind the ERA Amendment ( brief introduction, argument for why ERA is needed). March 22, 1972 | Equal Rights Amendment for Women Passed by Congress (NYT). Chronology of the Equal Rights Amendment, 1923-1996 (NOW). "The ERA Is a Moral Issue": The Mormon Church, LDS Women, and the Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (Neil J. Young, American Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3, Sep., 2007)
The New Mexico Law Review just published an issue dedicated entirely to Breaking Bad. It features eight articles that analyze the illegal acts committed on the show, their real-world parallels, and the consequences attached:
Given the array of legal issues raised, our editorial board was excited to take the opportunity to present analysis of Breaking Bad by scholars and legal practitioners. In April 2014 we issued a call for papers requesting abstracts on topics including the application of the Fourth Amendment to drug crimes under the New Mexico and/or U.S. Constitutions; the War on Drugs; ethical duties of lawyers; drug-offense sentencing; drug enforcement in rural, urban, and/or Tribal areas; and substance abuse and the law.Some of the greatest legal minds in New Mexico (and the country) came together to examine how Walter White would look to a jury, how the war on drugs affects peripheral citizens like Skyler, and whether Heisenberg could have stayed legit by fighting for his stake in Grey Matter in the courts. [via] [more inside]
The Washington Post sheds some much needed, highly relevant historical context on "[t]he long, painful and repetitive history of how Baltimore became Baltimore". [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver takes on the issue of civil asset forfeiture, including "Law & Order: Civil Asset Forfeiture Unit", a preview of how police procedurals could handle the topic. [more inside]
Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
Gospel of Intolerance - Excerpts of "God Loves Uganda", a feature documentary directed and produced by filmmaker Roger Ross Williams is having its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film explains how money donated by American evangelicals directly finances the violent antigay movement in Uganda.
In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it." The Atlantic's editor James Bennet discusses with Schmidt how lobbyists write America's laws, how America's research universities are the best in the world, how the Chinese are going all-out in investing in their infrastructure, how the US should have allowed automakers to fail, and ultimately Google's evolving role in an technologically-augmented society in this broad, interesting and scary interview (~25 min Flash video) [via]
The federal Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by Judge Joseph Tauro of the District Court of Massachusetts.
Though President Obama has signed no laws since taking office that prohibit gun purchases and ownership, that hasn't stopped permit applications and weapons sales in the United States from rising through the roof and worried state legislators from passing laws they wouldn't otherwise pass, which greatly ease access and allow carrying weapons in, among other public areas, city, state and national parks. Schools may have to get their kids prepared.
Today, the State of Washington becomes the first state in the history of the United States to pass a law supporting the equality of same-sex partners by popular vote. [more inside]
A simple question shows how complex the issue is. Chris at "Cynical C" asks his fellow citizens where they get thier health care (insurance) from and the incredible diversity of the current options and situations is immediately apparent. Quite spontaneously (but surely not unexpectedly), the question of "How much does it cost you?" becomes an essential part of the answers. Outsiders opine and tell stories and commiserate. [more inside]
Links to the landlord-tenant law of every state in the US from Consumerist. [more inside]
crunch time for ANWR [nytimes link] the administration wants to push through drilling despite what the residents think, a couple of senators in minnesota, oregon, and arkansas will cast the deciding votes... is the issue worth a call to you senator?
"If this were a sci-fi melodrama, it might be called Speech-Zilla meets Trademark Kong. ... The parties are advised to chill." (PDF file)
"If this were a sci-fi melodrama, it might be called Speech-Zilla meets Trademark Kong. ... The parties are advised to chill." (PDF file) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is at it again. Aqua's hit song "Barbie Girl" is judged not to be a violation of Mattel's trademark, but to be a parody protected by free speech. And all laboured judgely joshing aside, the decision offers a nice summary of trademark law. Get a plain HTML news story from CNN here. (The chorus is running through your brain now, right? And it's going to be there all day, too. *snicker*)
A giant loophole in McCain-Feingold will give oil companies a total exemption from all its propsed spending restrictions. This is levelling the playing field?