October 2, 2011
In the term that begins Monday, the Supreme Court will address issues as diverse as the limits of copyright law, the appeals process for owners of wetlands regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and whether the government of California can order reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursements. It is also likely that the court will rule on challenges to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derided by its critics as "Obamacare. " As is often the case, however, some of the most important cases on the court's docket involve individual rights.
July 7, 2011
As if they didn't have enough problems with online piracy, the major record labels say they've seen a surge in high-quality counterfeit CDs in California in recent years. That's why they're backing a bill by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) that would allow police to search disc manufacturing plants without a warrant, making it easier to find the ones behind the bogus products. The labels' eagerness to crack down on pirates is understandable, and Padilla has crafted a narrow measure that tries to stay within the parameters set by the Supreme Court.
May 23, 2011
One of the most important functions of the Supreme Court is to put legal limits on police excesses. But the court failed to fulfill that responsibility last week when it widened a loophole in the requirement that police obtain a warrant before searching a home. The 8-1 decision came in the case of a search of an apartment in Kentucky by police who suspected illegal drugs were being destroyed. The police, who said they smelled marijuana near the apartment, had knocked loudly on the door and shouted, "This is the police.
May 17, 2011 |
The Supreme Court gave police more leeway to break into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the evidence otherwise might be destroyed. Ruling in a Kentucky case Monday, the justices said that officers who smell marijuana and loudly knock on the door may break in if they hear sounds that suggest the residents are scurrying to hide the drugs. Residents who "attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame" when police burst in, said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. for an 8-1 majority.
May 17, 2011 |
Frustrated for years by rampant piracy, the recording industry is pushing California's lawmakers to approve legislation that would allow warrantless searches of companies that press copies of compact discs and DVDs. The Recording Industry Assn. of America, in effect, wants to give law enforcement officials the power to enter manufacturing plants without notice or court orders to check that discs are legitimate and carry legally required identification marks. The proposal by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima)
June 18, 2010 |
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a broad right of privacy for workers who send text messages on the job, ruling that supervisors may read through an employee's communications if they suspect rules are being violated. In a 9-0 ruling, the justices said a police chief in Ontario, Calif., did not violate the constitutional rights of an officer when he read the transcripts of sexually explicit text messages sent from the officer's work pager. In this case, the high court said, the police chief's reading of the officer's text messages was a search, but it was also reasonable.
December 15, 2009 |
The Supreme Court said Monday it would rule for the first time on whether employees had a right to privacy when they sent text messages on electronic devices supplied by their employers. The justices agreed to hear an appeal from the city of Ontario, which was successfully sued by police Sgt. Jeff Quon and three other officers after their text messages -- some of which were sexually explicit -- were read by the police chief. At issue is whether the chief violated their rights under the 4th Amendment, which forbids "unreasonable searches" by the government.
November 17, 2009
A man's home may be his castle, but few of us -- even celebrities -- have moats these days to protect our privacy. That was true long before the "bling ring" allegedly used the Internet to case the cribs of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Nor did thieves have to wait for the invention of Google maps to reconnoiter neighborhoods in search of easily accessible homes. That's worth remembering if, as we fear, some legislator decides that a law should be passed to prevent Internet surfers from looking at houses they easily could scope out from the sidewalk.
April 9, 2009 |
John Yoo is a professor of law at UC Berkeley. This semester, he is my colleague -- as a visiting professor -- at Chapman University's School of Law. Yoo is also under investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general for his role in producing a number of controversial memorandums during his service in the department during the Bush administration. The memos include one stating that the president may authorize the torture of suspected terrorists. I am a former federal prosecutor.
January 27, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court has again undermined the only realistic protection against illegal searches and seizures: the ban on using tainted evidence at trial. The 5-4 decision in an Alabama case is doubly ominous for California, where misguided ballot initiatives have forbidden state courts from adopting stricter standards for the use of illegal evidence than federal courts require. The justices upheld drug and gun charges against Bennie D.