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State Courts & AGs

State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 5/3/2016

Zach Mayo May 03, 2016
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  • Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia is expected to sign an expansion of the state's supreme court from seven to nine justices. Read more at The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • The Arizona legislature also passed an expansion of the state's supreme court. If Governor Doug Ducey signs the measure, it would move the court from five to seven justices. In addition to the the high court, the bill would expand state probation funding and increase judicial pay. Read more at ABC 15.

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Patent definition

The Public Contract Basis of Intellectual Property Rights

Randolph J. May, Seth L. Cooper April 27, 2016
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The Constitution’s Article I, Section 8 Intellectual Property Clause grants to Congress the power “To Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” A background assumption of the American Founders was that copyrights and patent rights secured by the Constitution were property rights ultimately rooted in the natural rights of authors and inventors to the fruits of their labors. This proposition, which remains as relevant in today's Digital Age as it was at the time of the Constitution’s adoption, was at the core of our book, The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property: A Natural Rights Perspective (2015).

The binding nature of public contracts is also part of the conceptual background of the copyrights and patent rights secured by the Constitution. In our April 19, 2016 Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper “The Public Contract Basis of Intellectual Property Rights,” Randolph May and Seth Cooper explore the conceptual and historical understanding of how copyrights and patent rights and are secured by contract between the federal government, on the one hand, and inventors and creative artists, on the other. [Read More]

State Courts & AGs

State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 4/26/2016

Zach Mayo April 26, 2016
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  • The Missouri House of Representatives has passed collateral source rule legislation; the bill had already been approved by the state's senate earlier in the year. The collateral source rule limits tort plaintiffs' recovery to the actual costs of medical payments rather than the listed value of the procedures. Read more at The Missouri Times.
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Bitcoin on keyboard

White Paper: The Alt-Chain Revolution

Timothy Courtney April 26, 2016
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In a Federalist Society white paper, David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman explore new bitcoin innovations and discuss the ways in which regulatory policy can hinder that innovation or spur growth:

Bitcoin is dead. Long live Bitcoin. A counterintuitive feature of the groundbreaking cryptocurrency—and there are many—is that both statements may simultaneously be true. The Bitcoin economy is robust and growing, with access to Bitcoin-denominated services expanding and more and more startups and established businesses seeking to capitalize on its popularity. At the same time, the Bitcoin network—literally, the interconnected web of computers that records transactions in Bitcoin’s distributed ledger known as the “blockchain”—is showing the strain of the currency’s success, while disagreements threaten to stymie efforts to scale Bitcoin usage further. Bitcoin-the-network may soon become too overloaded to fulfill the Bitcoin-the-currency’s promise of fast, secure, and low-cost transactions.

Read the full paper

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Assault rifle

The Truth about PLCAA

Joseph Greenlee April 26, 2016
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In pushing for increased liability for the firearm industry, Hillary Clinton is seizing a momentous political opportunity. This strategy allows her to rail against Republicans and the National Rifle Association, while simultaneously positioning herself to the left of her difficult-to-get-to-the-left-of socialist primary opponent Bernie Sanders on a key issue – gun control. What is more, by using her platform as a Democratic candidate for President of the United States, she is able to (mis)define an issue vital to the firearm industry and persuade otherwise disinterested supporters to favor her position.

Clinton has promoted various gun control measures throughout her campaign, but the anti-gun issue Clinton has focused on most is the most consequential – increased liability for the firearm industry. Specifically, Clinton refers to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”), which prevents lawful firearm manufacturers and dealers from being held civilly liable when their products are used in crimes. [Read More]

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Supreme Court columns

Video: McDonnell v. US

Timothy Courtney April 26, 2016
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Partner at DLA Piper LLP and Former U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose discusses the appeal of Governor McDonnell’s criminal conviction for corruption because he accepted gifts and money from Williams in exchange for helping Williams develop his business in Virginia. Governor McDonnell denies violating the relevant federal laws. The Supreme Court heard the case on Wednesday, April 27.

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Scientific silencers on the left are trying to shut down climate skepticism

Timothy Courtney April 25, 2016
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George Will writes for the Washington Post:

Authoritarianism, always latent in progressivism, is becoming explicit. Progressivism’s determination to regulate thought by regulating speech is apparent in the campaign by 16 states’ attorneys general and those of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, none Republican, to criminalize skepticism about the supposedly “settled” conclusions of climate science.

Four core tenets of progressivism are: First, history has a destination. Second, progressives uniquely discern it. (Barack Obama frequently declares things to be on or opposed to “the right side of history.”) Third, politics should be democratic but peripheral to governance, which is the responsibility of experts scientifically administering the regulatory state. Fourth, enlightened progressives should enforce limits on speech (witness IRS suppression of conservative advocacy groups) in order to prevent thinking unhelpful to history’s progressive unfolding.

Read the full article

News

Teleforum: Supreme Court to Consider Honest-Services Fraud

Timothy Courtney April 25, 2016
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On Wednesday, April 27, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States. The Court will review the public corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to determine whether the definition of “official action” as used in the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute is limited to exercising actual governmental power or the threat or pressure to do so. If the definition is not so limited, the Court will also consider whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional—given that such a broad definition could include political activity protected by the First Amendment. Listen in as our experts, Will Haun and Stephen Klein, who both attended the oral arguments, offer a summary and analysis to Federalist Society members.

The McDonnell case may have significant affects on campaign finance law as well. Stephen Klein, an attorney with the Pillar of Law Institute, will discuss how McDonnell's all-encompassing prosecution for corruption, or simply the appearance of corruption, could allow bribery and other criminal charges for cases that previously did not even call for civil enforcement by the Federal Election Commission or state elections agencies. This would put a serious chill on political engagement, which is at the core of free speech and association.

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Teleforum Preview: Regulatory Crimes: Clay v. U.S. Oral Argument by John J. Park, Jr.

Teleforum: Is the Administrative State Too Big to Fail?

Timothy Courtney April 25, 2016
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On March 30, Federal district court Judge Rosemary Collyer struck down the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s designation of MetLife as a systemically important financial institution. MetLife v. Financial Stability Oversight Council has readily apparent implications for financial regulation, and many commentators have suggested that it may even have far-reaching effects on the future of the larger administrative state. Tomorrow at 12:00pm, our expert, Peter Wallison, will discuss the opinion, its outlook on appeal, and its possible impact. Call in and join the conversation!

Read Peter Wallison's Wall Street Journal op-ed Why the MetLife Case Bears Watching Well Beyond Wall Street to catch up on the issue.

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