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From News Tribune staff and AP wire reports

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Missouri ballot measure that would allow allegations of past actions to be used against people facing child sexual abuse charges could lead to more wrongful convictions of the falsely accused, a prominent defense attorney said Wednesday.

The proposed constitutional amendment is backed by prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs groups.

It would allow past criminal acts even alleged crimes that didnt result in convictions to be used to corroborate victim testimony or demonstrate a defendants propensity to commit such crimes when people face sex-related charges involving victims younger than 18. However, the evidences admissibility is at the judges discretion, meaning if the judge doesnt think it is relevant to the matter being tried then it can not be used.

Currently the previous acts of defendants cannot be presented as evidence to a jury unless they waive their Fifth Amendment rights and testify. The past allegations can also be taken into consideration by judges during sentencing hearings after the defendant has been found guilty.

If approved by Missouri voters in November, Constitutional Amendment 2 could make it more difficult for defendants to persuade juries and judges of their innocence, said Kim Benjamin, a Belton attorney who is the past president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Youre now defending your entire life, your entire reputation, rather than this one act, she said. It causes a tremendous risk for more people to be wrongly convicted.

One of Benjamins most prominent clients was Burrell Mohler Sr., the patriarch of a western Missouri family who was accused along with his four sons of sexually abusing young relatives over many years. The charges ultimately were dropped in March 2012, after Mohler had spent more than two years in jail while awaiting trial.

The proposal, which was referred to the ballot by the Legislature in 2013, is a backlash against a December 2007 Missouri Supreme Court decision of State v. Ellison that struck down a state law allowing evidence of past sexual crimes to be used against people facing new sex-related charges involving victims younger than 14. Before Ellison, the Legislature had twice tried to establish legislation that would make the states statues regarding these issues mimic federal law, but both attempts were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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Sexual abuse measure could lead to wrongful convictions, attorneys say

The NCAA suggested its main arguments to appeal the Ed O’Bannon ruling allowing college athletes to be paid will focus on amateurism and First Amendment rights on live broadcasts.

In a filing Thursday night with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the NCAA’s lawyers responded to a mandatory mediation questionnaire that asks to briefly describe the issues on appeal. The NCAA wrote, The issues on appeal include but are not limited to whether amateurism is presumptively procompetitive for an amateur sports league and whether plaintiffs’ claims based on a property right in the use of their (names, images and likenesses) in live broadcasts of sporting events are foreclosed by the First Amendment. USA Today Sports first reported the filing.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Aug. 8 that the NCAA’s restrictions on what Football Bowl Subdivision players and Division I men’s basketball players can receive unreasonably restrain trade and violates antitrust law. Wilken’s injunction will allow football and men’s basketball players to receive scholarships covering their full cost of attendance and deferred payments for the schools’ use of their names, images and likenesses (NILs).

For decades, the NCAA’s legal defense to avoid paying players has relied upon a landmark 1984 Supreme Court ruling that stripped the NCAA of TV rights and allowed conferences to sell their games. The NCAA has clung to a line from that decision: In order to preserve the character and quality of the (NCAA’s) ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class, and the like.

In her October 2013 summary judgment ruling, Wilken wrote the Supreme Court opinion does not stand for the sweeping proposition that student-athletes must be barred, both during their college years and forever thereafter, from receiving any monetary compensation for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses. In her August judgment after a three-week trial, Wilken noted that the O’Bannon plaintiffs provided enough evidence to show the college sports industry has changed substantially in 30 years.

Wilken also wrote that the Supreme Court opinion stating athletes must not be paid differed from the NCAA’s own lawyers in the case. The NCAA’s lawyers in 1984 said during an oral argument that the NCAA was not relying on amateurism as a procompetitive justification and might be able to get more viewers and so on if it had semi-professional clubs rather than amateur clubs,’ Wilken wrote. In addition, Wilken wrote that the NCAA has inconsistently applied its amateurism rules throughout the association’s history and to this day.

Wilken’s injunction allows the NCAA to create a cap on the deferred licensing money as long as the cap is not less than $5,000 per year. It’s what’s called a less-restrictive alternative to the antitrust violation found.

By appealing based on amateurism, the NCAA could find relief or perhaps an even more damaging ruling. Conceivably, the appeals court could determine that amateurism is so illegitimate that it’s unreasonable for there to be any cap. That’s the argument attorney Jeffrey Kessler makes in his class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and the five major conferences.

Another issue the NCAA suggested it will appeal in O’Bannon relates to the First Amendment and live TV broadcasts — an area that generates billions of dollars for schools. The O’Bannon plaintiffs have sought to share that licensing revenue.

Earlier in the O’Bannon case, the NCAA claimed that the First Amendment and various state laws prevent college athletes from asserting any rights of publicity during game broadcasts. Wilken rejected that argument in April, writing that the First Amendment does not guarantee media organizations an unlimited right to broadcast entire college football games and questioned whether college athletes validly transfer their rights of publicity to another party.

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NCAA hints at O'Bannon case appeal strategy

In March 2008 I chatted with a silver-haired law school professor under the marble pillars of the U.S. Supreme Court building. He was very excited. The court was to about hear Heller v. D.C. The case would decide whether the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to own and carry guns. He had 20 law students with him. He said anxiously, When I put in the paperwork to get seats months ago I didnt know wed get to see one of the last unresolved constitutional questions debated. He said this while looking at a line of people hoping to get seats that went down the block, around a corner and out of sight.

Hours later a mainstream reporter next to me in the press section gasped, Oh no, when Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted that he believed the Second Amendment to be an individual right while asking the governments attorney a question.Months later, when the high court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right from government infringement, the media was paying attention. Many, however, are missing whats happening now. The Second Amendment is having its defining moment in history. The decisions now percolating up to the Supreme Court are deciding what guns the Second Amendment covers, when requirements become infringements and more.

Gun-rights and gun-control groups understand that these court decisions illustrate how much elections matter, as the federal judges making these decisions are nominated by the president and voted on by the senate. However, two recent federal court decisions from judges appointed by former president Bill Clinton show how difficult these decisions can be to handicap.

In one just-decided case, California Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii found that 10-day waiting periods of Penal Code violate the Second Amendment as applied to people who fall into certain classifications. He found this arbitrary wait time burdens the Second Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. (The decision can be read here.) This court decision orders the California Department of Justice to allow the unobstructed release of guns to those who pass a background check and possess a California license to carry a handgun, or who hold a Department of Justice-issued Certificate of Eligibility and already possess at least one firearm known to the state. Basically, it says if someone already legally has a gun in California the state cant make that person wait 10 days for a second gun just because it wants to. If that sounds like common sense to you, youre right, but common sense isnt a given in the courts.

Brandon Combs, a plaintiff in the case who is also director of the executive director of the Calguns Foundation, said the decision clears the way for them to challenge other irrational and unconstitutional gun-control laws. We look forward to doing just that.

United States Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A flurry of such challenges began right after Heller, led to McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and are still ongoing. In an important example, in February 2014 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to carry firearms for self-defense in public. The decision came in Peruta v. San Diego County. The majority opinion in Peruta said, We are called upon to decide whether a responsible, law-abiding citizen has a right under the Second Amendment to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

The California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation brought the case on behalf of five individuals who were denied the right to carry a handgun by the San Diego sheriff. According to California law, a person applying for their Second Amendment right to carry a concealed handgun must: (1) be a resident of their respective city or county; (2) be of good moral character; (3) have good cause for such a license; and (4) pass a firearms training course. Many rural California counties accept self-defense as good cause for a person to get a license to carry a handgun, but some urban sheriffs and chiefs of police disagreed. In those jurisdictions the few who attain permits had to beg, plead, and show imminent danger to their lives before they could exercise their right to bear arms.

The Ninth Circuit decided 2 to 1 that the restrictive good cause policy of the San Diego County Sheriffs Department was unconstitutional. The majority opinion accepted that the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. Rather, it is a right subject to traditional restrictions, which themselvesand this is a critical pointtend to show the scope of the right.

The majority decision in Peruta said, Our reading of the Second Amendment is akin to the Seventh Circuits interpretation [in Shepard v. Madigan] and at odds with the approach of the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. We are unpersuaded by the decisions of the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits for several reasons. First, contrary to the approach in Heller, all three courts declined to undertake a complete historical analysis of the scope and nature of the Second Amendment right outside the home. As a result, they misapprehend both the nature of the Second Amendment right and the implications of state laws that prevent the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding citizens from carrying in public for lawful self-defense purposes.

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The Second Amendment's Defining Moment

Opening remarks by Supreme Allied Commander, Europe – NATO Chiefs of Defence Meeting, 22 MAY 2014
Opening statement by General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, 22 May 2014. More from the event:


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Opening remarks by Supreme Allied Commander, Europe – NATO Chiefs of Defence Meeting, 22 MAY 2014 – Video

May 232014

Keen, have you ever heard of a situation where a parent, no matter how good a job he’s done of raising his kid, finds himself in a situation where the kid’s done something really bad and it’s become necessary to put your hand on the kid’s shoulder to make the point just how bad this is? That little pressure of your palm next to his neck is in both your minds an extreme physical measure, compared with the talkings-to you’ve administered in the past and you both know it. It’s as close as you’ll ever come to hitting the kid but, again, in your minds, things have come to the pretty pass that made it exigent you make your point.

Now, what about the kids of people who aren’t nearly the good parent you are? We’re surrounded by them, other people’s kids, and can you deny that it seems like many don’t listen to anything but a good smack in the kisser because that’s either the way they were raised or that’s just the way some people seem to be.

Okay, so much, for now, for not hitting people; what about whose stuff is whose?

You were born, probably, in the ’50s; you don’t say and it’s not really important exactly when. Presumably, you were born in this country or raised here; you don’t say and, again, it’s not important. It’s likely, though, that some time after you started to walk, your parents told you not to play in the street. (Maybe they even smacked you one time when you didn’t listen.) It wasn’t until years later, maybe, that you wondered how that street got there?

It’s not a natural outcropping, Keen.

Somebody put it there and that somebody was us, way back when. An integral part of our parents’ parents agreeing to get together and live was fixing up the place so it was livable. Streets and roads were early on the list as were places to do the public business. Places, you know, like courts? Like the Supreme Court, where you beat Waubaunsee County when they messed with you? Streets and roads and public buildings and lots of other things situated on land that, in a large number of cases, was somebody else’s stuff. It doesn’t take a lawyer or nuclear physicist to figure out that somebody had to give (or get smacked) and the world’s full of stories of givers who didn’t take kindly to the notion. Guys just like you.

Now, instead of typing forever on what could turn into a long, philosophical rambling about all of this stuff, I’m going to stop and ask you: unless each and every person in the state thinks and acts just like you and is as smart as you are (at least), what makes you think that you’ll ever get things working the way you want–short of having yourself appointed dictator?

Your libertarianism, how is getting that to work going to be any less insurmountable a problem than the one the Communists faced in Russia almost 100 years ago and how’s it going to turn out any better, in practice, when you have to concede that mere changes in government form or economic form, imposed on a populace that hasn’t changed an iota, are doomed?

I can guarantee you that when you come to take my stuff, I resist and you smack me, I’m not going to like it.

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Letter: Give Libertarians a look

Free speech case starts in Ohio, heads to Supreme Court
CINCINNATI (WKRC) — The Supreme Court expresses doubts about the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bars people from making false statements about candidates during a political campaign….

By: LOCAL 12

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Free speech case starts in Ohio, heads to Supreme Court – Video

The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security in Times of War Symposium
Commemorating the 100th Birthday of alumnus and former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell participants spoke at a symposium titled “The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security…

By: Reuben Halper

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The Clash Between the First Amendment and National Security in Times of War Symposium – Video

SUPREME STUPIDITY Kills The First Amendment – RIP Separation of Church State (1787-2014)
The Supreme Court rules against the Bible (ironically) and against the Constitution by allowing prayers to be recited before town meetings and other public meetings. MORE:…

By: The Amazing Atheist

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SUPREME STUPIDITY Kills The First Amendment – RIP Separation of Church & State (1787-2014) – Video

Campaign Money “Free Speech” Ripped By Retired Justice
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens criticized the recent Supreme Court ruling on unlimited campaign contributions in a rare public appearance on…

By: TheLipTV

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Campaign Money "Free Speech" Ripped By Retired Justice – Video

Originally published May 7, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Page modified May 8, 2014 at 12:02 AM

History, politics and law are all tangled up in contemporary court interpretations and public understanding of the Second Amendment, and politics is the greater part of the mix these days.

Last week, I wrote that weve so misread the amendment that maybe we ought to get rid of it. Thats certainly not on the horizon, but the idea drew a strong response and suggested to me that a review of the amendments history might be helpful. (Some of the responses also reinforced my belief there are many people who should not be allowed anywhere near a gun. What does racist name calling have to do with gun rights anyway?)

One theme that ran through comments supportive of unrestricted gun-ownership rights was that it is necessary for individuals to own guns to protect themselves against both crime and the U.S. government, and that the framers of the Constitution intended for the amendment to protect that individual right.

Thats a new way of reading the amendment.

I heard from Michael Schein, an attorney who handles appeals and who taught American legal history for 15 years at the University of Puget Sound and Seattle University.

Dont blame the framers, he wrote. For 217 years, the law under the 2nd Amendment was that it only protected possession or use of a firearm by well-regulated militia forces. … It contained no right of personal self-defense until 2008, when the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote brought that interpretation to its ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which limited the Districts gun-regulation law.

Wednesday I called Schein, and we talked about the amendments history and current interpretation. Its heavily politicized and wrapped up in peoples emotions, so its difficult to get to the facts underlying it in any objective way, he said.

The Constitution was written to create a more effective federal government, but some people worried the government would trample on the rights of states and individuals. The Bill of Rights was intended to mollify them and make ratification of the Constitution possible. Some were particularly concerned that the federal government would form a standing army, and they wanted assurances that state militias would be in a position to fight against such an army if it came to that.

James Madison was tasked with drafting the amendments. Some of the states had asked for a personal right in one amendment, but he didnt include that. Instead he used a version of Virginia law that dealt with militias.

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Second Amendment in real time boils down to politics

John Paul Stevens: “Money is not speech”
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says campaign finance limits should not be viewed as violations of the First Amendment. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says campaign…

By: WeathersPaulaVid

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John Paul Stevens: "Money is not speech" – Video

Posted Mon, May 5th, 2014 12:00 pm by Lyle Denniston

Two areas of the law where the Supreme Court made major pronouncements, and then all but dropped the subject, continued on Monday to remain off the Courts decision docket. One wasthe intensifying controversy over Second Amendment rights; the other was the lingering controversy over the fate of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Without comment, the Court denied review of new cases, keeping intact a lengthening list of refusals.

Since the Courts 2008 decision declaring a personal right to have a gun under the Second Amendment, and its 2010 decision expanding that right nationwide, the Justices have steadfastly refused to say anything more about how far that right extends. And since its 2008 decision giving Guantanamo Bay detainees a right to go to court to protesttheir prolonged imprisonment, it has routinely denied pleasto spell out how that ruling should be applied.

The pattern continued on Monday, as the Justices without explanation and with no dissenting votes recorded chose not to take on the Second Amendment case of Drake v. Jerejian, or the Guantanamo case of Al Warafi v. Obama.

Only two explanations seem plausible: either the Court is content to let lower courts work out the details of gun rights and detention authority, or the Justices are hesitating to take on a new case because they are not sure how the votes will be cast on final decisions.

Probably the biggest question overhanging the Second Amendment is whether the right to have a gun for personal self-defense exists outside the home. Some courts have said yes, some have said no, and some have not been sure either way. That was the issue raised in the Drake case, seeking to test a New Jersey law that requires an individual who wants to carry a handgun in public to get a permit to do so; to obtain such a permit, one has to convince officials that the person has a justifiable need for that privilege.

There is a clear split among federal appeals courts on the outside-the-home issue. In the Drake case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found no Second Amendment violation with the handgun permit law.

Probably the biggest question overhanging Guantanamo Bay prisoners that is, those being held there who are not being prosecuted for any crimes is whether and how long they can be kept there if they did not actively engage in armed conflict against the U.S. or its allies before they were captured. Justice Stephen G. Breyer signaled in a recent opinion that this is an open question.

And that appeared to be the situation in the new Al Warafi case. He and his lawyers have insisted that he went to Afghanistan to act as a medical worker, in clinics and hospitals, and his stint with Taliban forces was only as a medical aide. His detention was upheld by lower courts, however, because he was found to have been a part of the Taliban terrorist network regardless whether he had engaged in armed hostilities himself.

Those denials came among a series of orders the Court issued before beginning a two-week recess. Here, in summary, were some of the other actions:

More here:
Staying away from guns and Gitmo

The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court
The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court.

By: Suraj Panchal


The race to bring NSA surveillance to the Supreme Court – Video

What the final clause of the Fourth Amendment means in interpreting the government’s rights

An NSA facility in Utah (Reuters)

A secret opinion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recently released to the public is a reminder that the NSA is still conducting mass surveillance on millions of Americans, even if that fact has faded from the headlines. This would seem to violate the Fourth Amendment if you read its plain text. So how is it that FISA-court judges keep signing off on these sweeping orders?

They base their rulings on Smith v. Maryland, a case the Supreme Court decided decades ago. Before we examine the glaring flaw in the jurisprudence of the FISA-court judges applying it to mass surveillance, here’s a brief refresher on that case.

Smith began with a 1976 house robbery. After the break-in, the victim started getting obscene phone calls from a man identifying himself as the robber.

On one occasion, the caller asked that she step out on her front porch; she did so, and saw the 1975 Monte Carlo she had earlier described to police moving slowly past her home. On March 16, police spotted a man who met McDonoughs description driving a 1975 Monte Carlo in her neighborhood. By tracing the license plate number, police learned that the car was registered in the name of petitioner, Michael Lee Smith. The next day, the telephone company, at police request, installed a pen register at its central offices to record the numbers dialed from the telephone at petitioners home. The police did not get a warrant or court order before having the pen register installed. The register revealed that on March 17 a call was placed from petitioners home to McDonoughs phone. On the basis of this and other evidence, the police obtained a warrant to search petitioners residence.

The Supreme Court ruled that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy for numbers dialed from his house because a third party, the telephone company, kept a record of all calls dialed, as is commonly understood by phone users. The NSA argues that, per this precedent, they can obtain the call records of every American, even if the vast majority of us are suspected of no wrongdoing.

Georgetown Professor Randy Barnett explains why judges relying on Smith to legitimize mass surveillance are actually going far beyond the precedent that the Supreme Court established. A key difference between what the Court allowed in Smith and what the NSA is doing: Particularity.

Recall the text of the Fourth Amendment, and especially the part that I’ve rendered in bold:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Read the rest here:

The Shaky Legal Foundation of NSA Surveillance on Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) Campaign donations pay for more than political ads and should not be protected as free speech, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told a Senate panel Wednesday in urging them to rein in the billions of dollars shaping elections.

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Former Justice Stevens: Campaign cash isn't speech

Should police be allowed to search your smartphone
Argued that smartphones are covered by the fourth amendment, tomorrow the supreme court will hear a pair of cases that will help argue that smartphones and tablets should fall under that category,…

By: KOCO 5 News

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Should police be allowed to search your smartphone – Video

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 12:00 am

GUNS: Amendment words to fight over

There is a very well written discussion on the Second Amendment in Wikipedia. The Second Amendment states, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The Second Amendment was adopted on Dec. 15, 1791. In United States v. Miller (1939) the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia. This would make it a collective right, not an individual right. Then in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court held that the amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms.

It seems to me for the court to conclude people have an individual right to firearms, they would have to also conclude that an association with a militia is not necessary even though the language of the Second Amendment expressly ties that right to an association with a militia and not just any militia, but a well regulated militia. This controversy is not over.


Coeur dAlene

Posted in Letters to editor on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 12:00 am.

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GUNS: Amendment words to fight over

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Alabama Education Association is currently paying Edward Lane’s lawyers.

WASHINGTON – Government employees who testify about public corruption are protected by the First Amendment, several Supreme Court justices suggested Monday.

During oral arguments in a freedom-of-speech case out of Alabama, several justices challenged the notion that public employees who testify truthfully about an issue of significant public concern aren’t shielded from retaliation by the First Amendment.

“What kind of message are we giving when we’re telling employees, you’re subpoenaed in a trial, go and tell a falsehood because otherwise you can be fired?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked attorneys in the case.

The Fifth Amendment protects state employees against self-incrimination on the witness stand, but “it doesn’t protect the department he works for from being incriminated,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.

The case involves an employee at Central Alabama Community College whose testimony helped convict former Alabama state representative Sue Schmitz of corruption-related charges. The employee, Edward Lane of Ashville, was fired after he testified at Schmitz’s first trial in 2008.

Before Lane gets a chance to prove in court his firing was retaliatory, the Supreme Court must decide if his testimony is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Lane, who attended Monday’s arguments, was surprised that’s even in doubt.

“I thought for sure that being able to go testify truthfully in court that I should be protected,” he said in an interview on the Supreme Court steps after Monday’s arguments. “And to find out (the other side) actually thinks that is not the case – that just blows me over.”

Steve Franks, former president of the two-year college, says Lane’s testimony wasn’t protected by the First Amendment. His attorney, Mark Waggoner of Birmingham, argued Monday that Lane’s testimony was based on information he gleaned only from his job and that he was testifying as a state employee, not a regular citizen.

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Justices suggest public employees' testimony is protected

hide captionThe Supreme Court is hearing arguments in two cases over whether law enforcement can search cellphones obtained at an arrest without a warrant.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in two cases over whether law enforcement can search cellphones obtained at an arrest without a warrant.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in two cases testing whether police can search cellphones without a warrant at the time of an arrest, be it for a traffic violation or for a felony.

The Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches to require that police obtain a search warrant from a neutral judge upon a showing that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The warrant is to specify where the search will be conducted and the evidence being sought.

There are, however, exceptions to the warrant requirement.

The court has long allowed police to search people without a warrant at the time of their arrest. But as privacy advocate Andrew Pincus points out, until very recently, those searches were self-limiting, meaning they were limited by the amount of information an individual could carry on his person.

Now, however, because cellphones can store so much information, a person can carry more than any one of the Founding Fathers had amassed in a lifetime.

“The Library of Congress’ entire collection of James Madison’s papers is 72,000 pages,” Pincus observes, adding, “he couldn’t have carried them. They would have weighed 675 pounds.” And, says Pincus, today’s cellphones carry 100 times that much information.

Indeed, the iPhone 5 in its smallest storage version keeps 800 million words of text, Pincus says. That’s enough to fill more than a football field’s length of books, or over 8,000 photos, 260,000 private voice mails and hundreds of home videos.

“It’s misleading to even think of them as phones,” says George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, an expert on technology and the law. They are “general purpose computers” that have a bunch of apps, one of which is the telephone function.

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Weighing The Risks Of Warrantless Phone Searches During Arrests

The US Supreme Court appeared ready to rule in favor of a man who said he was fired for testifying against a corrupt official, in a case testing the limits of free speech guarantees. The nine justices of the top US court appeared to broadly support arguments that the US Constitution's First Amendment, which protects free speech, would shield a government employee, even when testifying about …

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US top court considers free speech in whistleblower case

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