Thursday, December 16, 2010

Enzyte and the warrantless search (or is it seizure?) of e-mail

The Sixth Circuit ruled today in U.S. v. Warshak that the Fourth Amendment prohibited federal law enforcement from obtaining the defendant's e-mails from his internet service provider without a warrant. The case is a big deal to legal scholars, and is also interesting because the defendant was the owner of the company that puts on those late night ads with Smilin' Bob.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The FRCP amendments

The latest amendments to Rules 26 and 56 went into effect on December 1. The Rule 26 amendment limits the discoverability of draft reports by expert witnesses. The Rule 56 amendment is supposedly only procedural. Rule 56(b) specifies a default deadline for filing summary judgment motions, as 30 days after the close of all discovery. The typical scheduling order in the W.D. Va. shortens that period. It requires parties to cite to particular parts of the record to show the absence or presence of a genuine dispute of material fact, which seems odd. It says the Court can rely only on cited materials, or may use other parts of the record. It allows the Court to grant summary judgment for non-movants, on notice to the parties.

A further explanation of the rationale for the changes to the Rules is contained in this excerpt.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Judge Hudson strikes down health insurance mandate

I've read Com. v. Sebelius, and what struck me on the first reading was that Judge Hudson seemed to say that if the Congress and the Administration had characterized the individual insurance mandate as a revenue measure from the get-go, the outcome might have been different. "In concluding that Congress did not intend to exercise its powers of taxation under the General Welfare Clause, the Court's analysis begins with the emphatic denials by the Executive and Legislative branches that [the penalty for not buying health insurance] was a tax," Judge Hudson wrote.

In other words, by hedging on the extent to which the penalty for failure to buy health insurance was an outright money grab by the United States, the proponents of the scheme forfeited a potential basis for upholding its constitutionality.