Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Supreme Court, 2013-14 Term: Quick Recap (Part 3: a few more cases)

To conclude this series, here are 3 additional significant decisions--one that I should have included in part 1, and two others that don't fit very well in either part 1 or 2.

Free Speech
McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission--Campaign Finance--[5-4] Restrictions on how much money someone may contribute to a political candidate or party violate the 1st Amendment.
(My take--disagree: Unlike the Citizen's United decision which specifically dealt with spending money in order to produce a political message independent of any candidate or party, this case dealt with giving money directly to a candidate or party, which creates a far greater risk of undue influence, bribery, and related corruption.

American Broadcasting Companies v Aereo--Transmission of TV Broadcasts--[6-3] Selling a service that transmits TV programs selected by individual subscribers to be watched over the internet violates the copyrights of the program owners.
(My take--agree: Program owners are entitled to compensation for this for-profit transmission of their property, just as they are from cable providers.

Utility Air Regulatory Group v Environmental Protection Agency--Greenhouse Gas--[5-4] The Clean Air Act does not authorize the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from sources the agency may not otherwise regulate; but [7-2] the EPA may regulate greenhouse gas emissions--and insist on "best available control technology" [BACT]--from sources that the agency is already authorized to regulate based on their emission of more conventional chemical pollutants.
(My take--disagree; agree: Greenhouse gases are air pollutants that endanger the public health (as the Court recognized 7 years ago) and would, therefore, seem to fall squarely within the EPA's regulatory authority, period.)

Well, that's it for the quick recap. When we return next to the Court's term, we'll look at a few of the decisions more closely, as well as decisional and voting patterns.