The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case this week on how inherited individual retirement accounts should be treated in bankruptcies, Reuters reports. The Seventh Circuit ruled that creditors could access an IRA inherited by the owners of a failed pizza shop because the IRA ceased to be retirement funds when inherited. However, the Fifth and Eighth Circuits have held that IRAs don't cease to be retirement funds when they are transferred, Reuters also reports.
U.S. Supreme Court
The New York Times' Adam Liptak writes that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide tomorrow if it will hear a lower court decision that mandating a corporation provide contraceptive coverage for its employees violates freedom of religion.
The NFL and the Major Baseball League recently argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that sports programming could shift from free broadcast TV to pay platforms if Aereo's Internet streaming service isn't stopped. But Barry Diller, a major investor in Aereo, is skeptical. Mediabistro reports Diller as commenting: '“The chances of the NFL going off broadcast television, this is ‘the Super Bowl is not going to be on free broadcast television.’ I want to see that happen. They’re just making noise.”'
Diller also said he thinks the chances of the Supreme Court granting certiorari in the case against Aereo is 50/50.
Major League Baseball and the National Football League are arguing in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that Aereo's steaming service of free broadcast TV could drive sports television away from free broadcast TV onto platforms that consumers have to pay for, Broadcasting & Cable reports.
"'If copyright holders lose their exclusive retransmission licensing rights and the substantial benefits derived from those rights when they place programming on broadcast stations, those stations will become less attractive mediums for distributing copyrighted content. The option for copyright holders will be to move that content to paid cable networks (such as ESPN and TNT) where Aereo-like services cannot hijack and exploit their programming without authorization,'" the sports leagues argued according to B&C.
Broadcasters argue that Aereo's service violates their copyrights in their programming.
The Washington Post's Robert Barnes writes about the litigants who don't want their cases to go the U.S. Supreme Court because they won below. Or because they are worried about how the general-knowledge justices might change legal doctrine in their particular area of law. "For every prayer sent up by a losing party appealing a case, there is a winner who hopes — and sometimes, works hard to ensure — that it goes unanswered," Barnes writes.
Andrew Cohen, in a blog for The Atlantic, argues that the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision to reject "a claim by a convicted murderer who argued that she was denied her Sixth Amendment right to the 'effective assistance of counsel' because her lawyer counseled her to reject a manslaughter plea deal without first adequately investigating the facts of her case" turns the constitutional right to counsel into a right without a remedy. Cohen expounds: "Your lawyer may have violated ethical rules; he may have failed to timely consult with other attorneys; he may have not adequately investigated your case; he may have given you bad advice that leads you to withdraw a guilty plea. And yet the legal standards imposed by the Supreme Court declare that you still aren't entitled to any meaningful relief by the courts. In law school, they call this 'a right without a remedy.' In real life, it's called injustice."
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has this feature on the plaintiffs who are challenging the practice of conducting mostly Christian prayers during town meetings for Rochester suburb Greece. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear oral argument on the issue tomorrow.
The plaintiffs said they are not anti-religion but they think religious involvement pollutes government: "'We are trying to protect religion. Whenever government gets involved in religion, it gets corrupted. I'm standing up for religion,"' plaintiff Susan Galloway told the Democrat & Chronicle.
One law professor said the Supreme Court has not considered legislative prayer in 30 years after the court established "the 'reasonable observer test,' for determining if legislative prayers constituted an unallowable endorsement of religion," the D&C also reported.
At least three cable companies are considering circumventing the billions of dollars of retransmission fees they have to pay to broadcast TV companies by capturing free broadcast-TV signals themselves, Bloomberg reports. The cable companies would be mimicking the business model of Aereo and FilmOn X, which have developed Internet streaming services in which they retransmit free broadcast programming to subscribers through individualized antennas. A case in which Aereo's business model was found not to violate copyright law is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court for the high court to consider hearing the appeal.
Bloomberg also reports that "retransmission fees in the United States are expected to double to $6.1 billion in 2018 from $3.01 billion this year."
U.S. Supreme Court Test Case Set Up with Prosecutors Informing Terror Suspect of Warrantless Evidence in His Case?
The Washington Post reports that a defendant in a terrorism case has been informed by the U.S. Department of Justice that federal prosecutors want to use evidence generated from warrantless surveillance against him. The case is expect to generate a constitutional challenge. The case also could generated a U.S. Supreme Court test case. The Supreme Court rejected prior challenges to warrantless surveillance because the "lawyers, journalists and human rights organizations who brought the suit could not prove they had been caught up in the surveillance. As a result, they did not have legal standing to challenge the constitutionality," The Washington Post also reports.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the Philadelphia area earlier this week, told a group of college students that "'nobody is born a justice,"' The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and the third woman to serve on the court recalled that her first goal was to graduate college, then to finish law school and now it is to become a better justice. '"I am learning to write shorter opinions, ask less questions, and think more globally about the decisions I make,"' The Inquirer also reported.