The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in a case that could have broad implications for how modern surveillance technology is used to track criminals. The question at stake in The United States v. Antoine Jones is whether Fourth Amendment protections from "unreasonable searches and seizures" extends to GPS tracking and where the boundaries between public and private space lies in an era when many people are increasingly trackable through smart phones and other digital devices.
Does the right to protest include the right to set up camp in downtown Manhattan? When it comes to Occupy Wall Street and protesters in Zuccotti Park, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't think so. "The Constitution doesn’t protect tents," he said at a news conference earlier this week in Queens. "It protects speech and assembly." Mayor Bloomberg also suggested that those exercising a "right to be silent" might be having their rights trampled by the constant noise coming from the demonstrations in their tent city.
The Supreme Court begins a new term on Monday. Rather than ruling on the rights of corporations, as it has done in recent terms, the Court has criminal justice, free speech, and religion cases on the docket. Cases that are likely to grab headlines include when police can track cars with GPS devices, and whether sexual content may air on television at times when children may be watching. But one case may overshadow all of the others: President Obama's health care policy, which requires that most people buy health insurance by 2014.
At 11:08 PM on Wednesday, Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection in a Georgia prison. Davis, who was convicted of murdering an off-duty police officer in 1989, maintained his innocence until the end. His case drew international attention after questions arose about his conviction, including 7 of 9 eyewitnesses recanting or changing their testimony. Prominent groups and leaders from across the political spectrum called upon the courts to review his case. The Supreme Court reviewed by denied a petition to stay his execution.
A last minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was not enough to save Troy Davis. The Georgia inmate was executed for the murder of a Savannah police officer, despite serious doubts about the evidence against the 42-year-old. Davis's case gained the support of hundreds of thousands of followers, including former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Republican presidential candidate Bob Barr, and celebrities like Sean Combs and Cee-Lo Green.
The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution on Thursday for Duane Buck, a Texas man who has sat on death row for the past 16 years. Buck's guilt is not in question. He was convicted for killing his former girlfriend and another man in 1995. But Buck, a black man, was sentenced by a jury who heard expert testimony from a psychologist who said black people pose a of violently reoffending when released from prison. Gov. Rick Perry, who was cheered on at a GOP debate for the 234 inmates executed in Texas under his watch, has been asked to review the case.
Today the Supreme Court begins the last week of its term, and it may have saved some of its most controversial decisions for last. The court will announce decisions on four remaining cases, two of which involve First Amendment disputes.
The Supreme Court unanimously agreed yesterday to reject a lawsuit brought on by six states, New York City, and several land trusts, seeking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from major power plants. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that under the Clean Air Act, the case must be addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency, rather than by the courts. The Supreme Court maintains their 2007 ruling that only the EPA can dictate regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, but meanwhile Congress is trying to strip the EPA of its very ability to regulate these emissions.
For the past 11 years, 1.5 million women have been taking on the world’s largest corporation, Wal-Mart, for what they claim is a corporate practice of gender discrimination. The case would be the largest employment discrimination suit in U.S. history, damages could be in the billions, and the whole process has already dragged on over a decade. But whether that suit will ever be heard in court still has to be decided. Today the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in Wal-Mart vs. Dukes. Their task is to decide whether such a large and diverse group of people — working for shops across the country — can even be considered a “class” and therefore capable of raising a claim.
A year ago, the Supreme Court decided on one of the most controversial campaign finance cases in recent history: Citizens United. The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of lifting a ban on corporate spending on political campaigns. Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas were two of the judges who concurred with the opinion of the court. Now, a liberal group, Common Cause, has filed a petition arguing that Scalia and Thomas should be taken off campaign finance cases.
The Supreme Court begins a new term today, facing a list of cases with several dominant themes: personal privacy, the rights of corporations, and just how far the far-flung boundaries of First Amendment protection extend when offensive speech is involved. The court has three female justices for the first time in its history, although newly-appointed Justice Elena Kagan will need to recuse herself from several cases she had pursued or submitted in her former role as Solicitor General.
A federal judge in California overturned the 17 year old policy that affects the ability of gay men and lesbians to serve in the military late on Thursday. Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" unconstitutional, saying the rule violates the rights of gay people and has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the military. Don't Ask, Don't Tell bars gay people in the armed services from disclosing their sexual orientations.
Judge Phillips said she would issue an injunction barring the government from enforcing the rule. Legal observers expect the decision to be stayed pending an appeal.
You've got something you want taken offline: a drunken Facebook photo, an ill-advised blog post about your flirtation with Satanism, a frustrated tweet you wish you could take back. As Facebook passes its 500 millionth user, we take a look at new proposals to reduce the threat that we users of the internet pose to ourselves.
More light will be shed today on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's legal history. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library is set to release 11,000 emails written by Kagan during her tenure as a domestic policy aide and White House counsel in the Clinton Administration. The emails come on top of another 160,000 pages of previously released documents, far more information than the Senate Judiciary panel has received from other recent nominees.
A former nurse appears in court in Minnesota this morning charged with two counts of aiding suicide. His weapon? Words. For years, William Melchert-Dinkel, 47, allegedly spent hours in online chat rooms with suicide themes, posing as a young female nurse and befriending vulnerable people contemplating suicide. He encouraged them to end their own lives, gave them tips on how to do it, and entered into suicide pacts with some - pacts police say he never intended to keep. At least two of the people he advised took their own lives – a 32-year-old British man in 2005, and an 18-year-old college student in Canada in 2008. Now Melchert-Dinkel is being charged with their deaths.
Later this morning, President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The Senate confirmed her appointment to her current position last year, 61-39. Justice Stevens has long been a reliably liberal voice on the court and Kagan would likely continue that philosophy. If confirmed, she would be the third woman on the court and the first justice in nearly forty years who has not already served as a judge.
Last month Google said enough is enough and moved its search operations out of mainland China, causing noticeable diplomatic waves. Yesterday, the company took another step, revealing some of the extent of its foreign policy. It published this explanation of censorship requests from all the governments with whom they deal.
A jury in Italy has ruled that three Google executives are guilty of invasion of privacy after a user uploaded a video depicting four Italian teenagers bullying a boy with Down syndrome to the company's video service. The prosecutors' argument as to why the executives are responsible says that "a company's rights cannot prevail over a person's dignity." But the ruling has many legal and tech experts wondering: should a hosting platform be held responsible for what people post while using the service? And when do attempts to uphold personal dignity impede on free speech?
Yesterday, the Supreme Court effectively overturned The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the campaign finance reform passed in 2002. Senators John Mcain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) designed the law to limit the influence of big business and labor unions on elections.