We had some cases with interesting facts come up this week.
The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on providing survivor benefits to children conceived by in vitro fertilization, with frozen sperm, after the father died. In Astrue v. Capato, Respondent mother of the twins applied for Social Security survivors benefits for the twins, relying on 42 U.S.C. 416(e) of the Social Security Act, which defined child to mean, inter alia, “the child or legally adopted child of an [insured] individual.” The Social Security Administration denied the application, reading the act to entitle biological children to benefits only if they were qualified to inherit as a decedent under state intestacy law. The USSC upheld this interpretation, ruling that it was more in tune with the purpose of the statute, to provide for children who were supported by the deceased wage earner.
Well, it hasn’t been a good week for the reputation of the legal profession.
By now, you’ve heard that the 9th Circuit ruled on Padilla v. Yoo, finding that plaintiffs do not have a cause of action against the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Yoo for injuries suffered as a result of Mr. Yoo’s “torture memos.” The Court found that Yoo was entitled to qualified immunity under Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, because regardless of the legality of plaintiff’s detention and the wisdom of Yoo’s judgments, at the time he acted the law was not “sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he [wa]s doing violated[d]” plaintiff’s rights.
Whitey Bulger, the indicted and apprehended alleged ringleader of Boston’s notorious ‘Winter Hill Gang’ organized crime family, needs “a reasonable amount of time to review a tsunami’s worth of discovery,” according to Bulger’s defense lawyers J.W. Carney, Jr. and and Henry B. Brennan.
The statement was made in a filing with the Massachusetts federal court this morning (read the legal filing below).
It’s a bad week for government documents. OMB Watch recently reported that the House voted to cut funding to the Government Printing Office. This comes as no surprise, given the recent budget drama, and it’s not likely to get a lot of mainstream attention with looming cuts to entitlement programs and the military funding.
It’s important for those of us that advocate for government transparency and open access to take note, however. The GPO is the office tasked with preserving and disseminating federal documents. Cuts to its budget means less access to the law for people who can least afford to pay for it.
In an enlightening decision, a federal judge ruled this week that Las Vegas-based copyright litigation enterprise Righthaven had no legal basis to sue one defendant, Democratic Underground, because it didn’t even own the copyright it was suing over.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt was particularly peeved to learn that Righthaven was trying to engage in legal slight-of-hand by purportedly having publisher Stephens Media, LLC assign it any right to sue for copyright infringement. This was impossible, the court concluded, because copyright law forbids assigning the right to sue over alleged infringement; “only the owner of an exclusive right under a copyright may bring suit.”
36 U.S. Code § 116 requests that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying for permanent peace. Here are some photos and videos of how various Presidents and the people of the United States have observed Memorial Day / Decoration Day over the ages.
Back in October, I wondered whether this case would add to the growing list of personal rights for corporations. The short answer is no. The Court held that corporations are not entitled to a “personal privacy” exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. 5 U. S. C. §552(b)(7)(C).