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Junk Government: Cases to Keep an Eye on in the New SCOTUS Term

The Supreme Court began their new term yesterday. Let’s have a look at some of the key cases the SCOTUS will be deciding this term:

1. FCC v. AT & T: Exemption 7 of the Freedom of Information Act permits the government to withhold information gathered during law enforcement investigations if disclosure "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy". AT & T would like the SCOTUS to apply the exemption to the privacy of corporations. If they do, imagine what nefarious activities corporations will be able to cover-up (as mentioned in Public Citizen’s amicus brief, meat inspection reports, medicare nursing home reports, civil rights compliance information, etc. could be the types of things that corporations would like to keep private).

2. Snyder v. Phelps: This is a case of privacy vs. free speech rights: Are protesters at a funeral (like those of Phelps’ hate group) protected from liability for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the deceased’s family? The petition asks the Court to give protection to families attending funerals from "unwanted" marks or displays from protesters. This case is really quite interesting because of it’s parallels to anti-choice protesters outside of abortion clinics. Anti-choice protesters have been granted protection to exercise their free speech rights despite the emotional distress it inflicts upon clinic clients. Will the SCOTUS rule similarly in favor of the rights of hate-mongering Phelps and Co.? Or will the SCOTUS find in favor of the privacy rights of families, even though they have so little consideration for the privacy rights of women and their partners? (Full disclosure: I would find against both anti-choice crusaders and the despicable Phelps, as I believe one’s right to free speech ends when it becomes harassment of others).   . . .

3. Kasten v. Saint-Gobain: This is an important case for worker’s rights. Employees are protected from retaliation for complaining about violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The SCOTUS will decide if only written complaints are protected from retaliation, or if oral complaints are protected too.

4. Thompson v. North American Stainless: Another important case for worker’s rights. Miriam Regalado, an engineer at a manufacturing plant in Kentucky, filed an EEOC complaint for sex discrimination against her company. Three weeks later, they fired her fiance, also an employee at the plant. This case asks the SCOTUS to decide whether whether the employer’s behavior was in violation of an anti-retaliation provision of a federal civil rights statute, and whether the fired employee can sue (rather than just the employee who filed the complaint). A favorable decision for the employer will surely lead to bold new retaliatory actions by management against 3rd parties associated with complaining employees. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen, as workers have it bad enough already.

5. Kentucky v. King: Police usually (still) need a warrant to enter a home, but "emergency situations" provide an exception. This case asks the SCOTUS to decide whether that exception applies when the emergency is created by the police themselves. Read the lower court’s decision here, which is very interesting indeed.

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