Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court rulings

The Supreme Court came out with a number of interesting rulings this morning, most of which anger us, and one which pleases us. It wasn't a great day for the American people. The lowdown:

Court says courthouses cannot display Ten Commandments....from the AP:
In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses today, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.
While the Supreme Court ruled that clearly religious Ten Commandment displays in Kentucky were unconstitutional, they did uphold a monument in a 22-acre park at the Texas State Capitol, where it was just one of 17 sculptures. Justice Stephen Breyer was the swing vote.

The Court essentially declared that these disputes should be resolved by the courts on a case by case basis.

Court allows Hollywood companies to sue makers of filesharing companies - This was a very disappointing and unfortunate decision. EFF explains the ruling:
The Supreme Court's decision held that software innovators may be held liable for inducing the copyright infringement of their users. EFF believes that the Court unleashed the potential for a torrent of new litigation by creating a test that has many factors, is very fact-specific, and is difficult to predict. The Court also set us up for a world where consumers are given fewer choices in the marketplace, because innovators will be scared to introduce products that do not have Hollywood's seal of approval.
NPI believes the Court's decision today deals a blow to consumers, innovators, and individual rights, and delivers a victory for entertainment megaconglomerates. We hope the Court clarifies itself in the future to restrict the negative effects of this ruling.

The Court also decided that police cannot be sued for how they enforce restraining orders, and they delivered a victory for the cable industry, ruling that cable companies don't have to share their lines with rival providers of high-speed Internet service.

We find no reason to dislike the first of those last two rulings above, but we're angered that again, the Court has put cable companies' interests above the peoples' interest. This is a good day for corporations and not a good day for consumers and citizens:
The court's ruling "threatens to cement the cozy duopoly of cable modem and DSL service that has made a mockery of competition in American broadband markets and prompted hundreds of communities across the country to build their own local networks," said three consumer groups - the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Free Press.
We agree, and we're very disappointed with this ruling.

The Supreme Court also refused to consider a case about freedom of the press:
The Supreme Court on Monday increased the likelihood of jail time for two reporters, refusing to take up a case that pits the news media's promise to protect confidential sources against a grand jury's demand for information.

The justices' decision not to intervene leaves reporters Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine in contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources in a leak probe involving CIA officer Valerie Plame. Each reporter faces up to 18 months in jail.
We wish the justices would have taken up the case, as it represents a strong constitutional issue.

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