In memory of Carlin, here's a link to Oyez's presentation, including the written opinion and audio oral arguments, of F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation 438 U.S. 726, the 1978 Supreme Court case that resulted from a New York radio station's afternoon airing of Carlin's "Filthy Words" monologue.
Linda Greenhouse reports that the Supreme Court has rejected Major League Baseball's appeal in its case seeking to require fantasy baseball leagues to pay licensing fees for using MLB's player names and stats.
appeal to the Supreme Court, Major League Baseball Advanced Media
argued that in balancing the right of publicity against the First
Amendment, the appeals court had given too much weight to the First
The “right of publicity” is a concept based on state law — in this
instance, Missouri law — and the appeal argued that the federal appeals
court had ignored the way the Missouri state courts would have
approached the issue. The decision “resulted in a judicial refusal to
enforce state-law publicity rights,” the appeal said.
Back in April, the New York Personal Injury Blog reported that three of the Justices--Alito, Breyer, and Stephens--recused themselves from the case due to their participation in the high courts fantasy baseball league, Articles for Deletion. However, Justices Ginsburg and Scalia, who play on the same team in the fantasy league along with a federal marshall, did not recuse themselves.
For more baseball-Supreme Court fun, check out Oyez Baseball, an online game that combines baseball and legal trivia. I would imagine the Justices would be quite good at it!
American paper currency has long been a problem for the blind and visually impaired. Those of you who have seen Ray probably remember the scene where Ray Charles insists on always being paid in singles, because it was the only way he could trust that he was being paid the correct amount.
The 2-to-1 decision, by a panel of the United States Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, held that the Treasury
Department had failed to demonstrate that it would be too burdensome to
make bills of different sizes or add features that could be read by
touch to distinguish monetary value.
“A large majority of other
currency systems have accommodated the visually impaired, and the
secretary does not explain why U.S. currency should be any different,”
Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for herself and Judge Thomas B. Griffith,
referring to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., the nominal defendant.
happens next is not certain. The government could appeal to the full
13-member appeals court (one of whose judges, David S. Tatel, is
blind), or it could seek quick review by the Supreme Court, a step it has 90 days to take.
Mildred Loving, a plaintiff in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia that overturned the last segregation laws, died on May 2 at age 68. From the New York Times:
By their own widely reported accounts, Mrs. Loving and her husband,
Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the
early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when
the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst
into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening
voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”
Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.”
Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here.”
The certificate was from Washington, D.C., and under Virginia law, a
marriage between people of different races performed outside Virginia
was as invalid as one done in Virginia. At the time, it was one of 16
states that barred marriages between races.
For those who haven't heard their story before, it is well worth clicking through to read.
Actor Wesley Snipes, star of the Blade movies, was sentenced to three years in prison by the federal district court in Ocala and ordered to pay $5,000,000 in fines. Prosecutors said that the sentence, the maximum possible for the misdemeanor of failing to file tax returns, should send a strong message that such an oversight has the potential to land you in jail. Snipes was convicted of failing to file federal tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001.
This story has its roots in the charges of sexual assault brought against members of the Duke University lacrosse team in 2006. Charges were eventually dropped, and Nifong, the district attorney who oversaw the case, was disbarred. In February, members of the lacrosse team and their families brought suit against Duke and the City of Durham, seeking monetary compensation for the damages they sustained during the prolonged period of time during which they were tried in the news and in the court of public opinion. They are represented by Robert Bork, Jr., son of the nominee for the Supreme Court who failed to win approval from the Senate in hearings that gave us the verb "borked."
The lawyers representing the lacrosse team members are keeping a blog detailing the procedural course of the lawsuit and, as is usual in blogs, larding their entries with statements of personal opinion. Duke and its co-defendants requested that the court sanction the attorneys for violating the North Carolina Code of Professional Conduct by making statements "disseminated by means of public communication which would have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudication" on the lawsuit. Essentially, Duke contended that Bork's blog would taint the jury pool in the jury trial defendants have requested. Last week, US district court judge James Beaty denied their motion.
This case is an interesting look at the impact of Internet-mediated information on the course of justice. Judge Beaty did not sanction the blogging attorneys, but issued guidance to both sides as to how they should conduct their relations with the media. For more information, see the article in the April 14 issue of The National Law Journal
The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that FEMA is bound by an injunction prohibiting it from issuing national flood insurance for new developments in the Florida Keys until it satisfies the requirements of the Endangered Species Act to "insure" that its actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species or their habitat. In a decision sure to be applauded by environmentalists, the Court ruled that the Endangered Species Act does apply to FEMA's administration of the National Flood Insurance Program. The lawsuit was first filed in 1990, after it was determined that FEMA's actions in issuing national flood insurance had the potential to drive the Florida Key Deer to extinction. Read an account of the decision in the Tuesday, April 15 issue of The U.S. Law Week
Remember avvo.com, the free lawyer rating service that had some attorneys steamed because they didn't like their ratings? Well, two of them were so upset that they filed a class-action complaint againt the company. First Amendment Center news now reports that Federal district court judge Robert Lasnik has dismissed the complaint, stating
"To the extent that their lawsuit has focused a spotlight on how ludicrous the rating of attorneys (and judges) has become, more power to them. To the extent that they seek to prevent the dissemination of opinions regarding attorneys and judges, however, the First Amendment precludes their cause of action."