Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court Happenings

Lots of important legal news today coming out of the Supreme Court. Below is my completely non-legal summary and analysis of what happened:

The government cannot display the 10 commandments publicly. This is really bad for the granite and engraving industries.

Grockster (and by extension, Kazaa, Gnutella, Blogtorrent, the old Napster, et al) is illegal. If you're using it, you're committing a crime, and its a crime to develop tools to help people do it. In other news, the FBI has begun a crackdown on people who make rockin' 80's mix tapes for their girlfriend.

High speed internet access providers do not have to provide service to their competitors - which is unlike telephones - AT&T owns most telephone lines, but they are forced to rent them to their competitors so that there is competition in phone service. Stealing wi-fi from your neighbor without a firewall is still ok though.

The Court turned away appeals from jailed reporters who refused to give up their confidential sources. This means that there is no federal recognition of reporter's privilege, unlike Catholic priests who listen to you in confessional. This is a bad for whistle blowers, who will be far less likely to step forward and leak fraud/corruption/Watergate - but sorta understandable, since my pastor never announced my sins in the church bulletin.

Chief Justice Rehnquist does not die/retire.

You can get a much better analysis at SCOTUSblog, which is where I read all of this. The people at SCOTUS blog, who live blogged these decisions, are just plain phenomenal.


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