Legal


Prop 8 Likely to Be Repealed Narrowly; Court to Hear DOMA Today

By Paul Hogarth

It is never wise to predict U.S. Supreme Court decisions on oral arguments, or else Obamacare would have been repealed. Based on the Justices' line of questioning, however, it appears that they will overrule Proposition 8 - but on narrow grounds that will only affect California. The Justices spent a significant chunk of time on "standing," but they will likely consider the Prop 8 supporters as proper litigants. But Justices Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts had clear problems with finding a "right" to same-sex marriage that would apply nationwide - and the "nine-state" compromise was widely panned. I predict they will rule Prop 8 unconstitutional by applying the Romer precedent and sustaining the Ninth Circuit decision, i.e., Prop 8 was unique because it "took away" a right that same-sex couples already had.

Welcome to the Golden Age of Arms Dealing

By Tina Dupuy

In 2004, the families of eight gunshot victims sued the manufacturer and dealer of the Bushmaster XM-15 used in the DC Sniper rampage for negligence. They won. The New York Times reported, "Under the terms of the settlement, Bushmaster Firearms Inc. of Windham, Maine, the gun's maker, will pay $550,000 to the victims' families; Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, Washington, the gun dealer, will pay $2 million."

What about the families from the Amish schoolhouse shootings? Virginia Tech? The 2007 Northern Illinois University shooting? The Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson? The Carson City, Nevada IHOP massacre in 2011? The Aurora Theater shooting? Or the parents of the first-graders gunned down in Newtown?

Lawsuit Filed Against Fracking as Oil Lobbyist Says It's "Safe"

By Dan Bacher

As a lawsuit was filed to stop unregulated fracking in California, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, claimed that fracking causes no environmental harm in the state.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a rapidly spreading, environmentally destructive new method of oil and gas extraction that is drawing growing opposition throughout the state by environmentalists, fishermen, tribal members, family farmers and consumer advocates.

Google Gets Antitrust Ultimatum from FTC

By John M. Simpson

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has given Google what Bloomberg News Service describes as an ultimatum to settle the agency's antitrust investigation in the next few days or face a lawsuit.

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg reporter Sara Forden on Monday wrote:

"Google has been in discussions with the agency for about two weeks and hasn’t put any remedy proposals on the table, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private."

ACLU Sues Morgan Stanley, Targets Loan Securitizer Over Loan Originator

By David Dayen

The ACLU plans to sue Morgan Stanley on behalf of five named plaintiffs (they will seek class action status), for the investment bank's role in fueling what they view as a discriminatory subprime bubble. In doing so, the ACLU will try to pioneer a new legal strategy, by going after the securitizer of the loans instead of the now-defunct originator.

Farm Bureau Anti-HSR Suit Clearly Intended to Stop Project

By Robert Cruickshank

There's been a lot of discussion of the California Environmental Quality Act lately and the need to reform it. My view is that environmental regulations and reviews of projects are very important, but that it should not be used to stop good and environmentally friendly projects from going forward. If the review process is used with the intent of making a project better, that's great! But that's not what's happening with high speed rail.

FTC Estimates Google's Privacy Hack Earned Up To $4 Million

By John M. Simpson

One of the things you hear when companies try to minimize the impact of privacy violations is an attempt to claim there was no financial harm to consumers. However, in an interesting development the Federal Trade Commission is now publicly estimating that Google's hack around Apple's Safari browser privacy settings earned the Internet giant up to $4 million.

Social Scientists’ Brief with Supreme Court Sheds New Light on Diversity

By Eva Paterson
Equal Justice Society

On August 13, the Equal Justice Society, the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 13 of the country’s leading social scientists in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, urging the Court to uphold modest race-conscious admissions policies.

The brief cites studies, provided to the Supreme Court for the first time, showing that race-conscious admissions policies such as those used by the University of Texas at Austin result in a more diverse student body, which is essential to produce leaders able to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. The brief also explains how structural barriers inhibit educational opportunity.

Proposition 32 Group Was Behind Citizens United

By John MacMurray

Just mentioning the Citizens United case is enough to boil some folks’ blood. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205 (U.S. Jan. 21, 2010) to use its full name, was the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment.

The decision, equating campaign money with speech, opened the floodgates for, as some have put it, turning elections into auctions.

But, although a lot of us know something about the decision, mostly focused on its consequences, not enough of us know enough about the case itself—and some of the truly devious people behind it—and we should know.

But before we can begin connecting the dots, we need to identify the dots.

First Dot: Citizens United

Progressives Wrongly Alarmed by Roberts’ ACA Decision

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

After winning the biggest Supreme Court victory in a generation, progressives should be joyous at the expansion of the nation’s long troubled health care system (and the bitter reaction on the right). But instead, some are spinning this great outcome as laying the groundwork for future defeats. Their reasoning is that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion limiting the Commerce Clause will come back to hurt progressive interests. But the current conservative Court majority has shown time and again – most prominently in Citizens United – that it needs no legal precedent to throw out laws it doesn't like. If a broad reading of the Commerce Clause gets the court majority to where it wants to go, that’s the opinion it will issue. It may be psychologically comforting to think that legal precedent governs the nation’s highest court, but the record says otherwise.