Snippets: Ginsburg-Sotomayor 'Feud,' Guns, Child Porn, Patent Proof - People and Events - U.S. Supreme Court
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Snippets: Ginsburg-Sotomayor 'Feud,' Guns, Child Porn, Patent Proof

It's a big week for oral arguments in the Court, with fascinating questions of statutory interpretation in the areas of gun purchasing regulations and criminal restitution.

Meanwhile, are two of the court's liberal justices feuding? And if so, who has more support on the Court?

Ginsburg, Backed by Court, Criticizes Sotomayor

Sometimes, even the most boring opinions can contain hidden gems.

In Daimler v. Bauman, the court unanimously held that Daimler can't be sued in California for something that happened in another country, especially since its only connection to the state is the cars it sells. Jurisdiction is most appropriate (and maybe only appropriate) in a company's principal place of business and state of incorporation.

Sotomayor wrote separately, concurring in the judgment only. She thought the particular facts here made California an unreasonable forum, but hypothetically, if they do enough business there, jurisdiction may be appropriate.

Boring, at least until the footnotes, where Ginsburg (again, joined by seven others) trades jabs with Sotomayor, accuses her of "selectively referring to the trial record," and argues that Sotomayor "favors a resolution fit for this day and case only."

Prof. Josh Blackman has the full recap of the back-and-forth footnotes, as well as prior cases where Alito and Ginsburg have questioned Sotomayor's interpretation of the law. (One case was 8-1 over Sotomayor's dissent). Meanwhile, Professor Dorf suggests a "more banal explanation."

Grasping at Straw Purchasers

We try not to get too excited over oral arguments -- they're often entertaining but really, the briefs are far more important.

That being said, today brought two very interesting cases. In Abramski, a guy legally purchased a gun using his law enforcement discount and then sold it to his uncle. Both were legally allowed to own guns, but because Abramski had no intention of owning the gun himself, the BATF tagged him with a straw purchase charge.

SCOTUSblog has a recap of the justices' attempt to make sense of a hopelessly-flawed law.

Is the straw purchasing law too vague to be applied to anyone (if the law only applies to the initial transaction, and not the subsequent legal intra-family sale, or a private party sale in the parking lot), or so vague that it can be applied in ridiculous scenarios, such as this one?

Child Porn Restitution

We've written about child pornography victims Amy and Vicky, whose images have spread far and wide across the internet. Federal law provides for restitution for both victims, but the answered question is how to divide up the tab.

Amy and Vicky cases have made it to a number of different circuits and pretty much every one has come up with a different solution, such as:

  • Joint and several liability;
  • Splitting the cost per offender or per image;
  • Determining the amount of harm done by each offender (nearly impossible);

This case is complicated by the nature of the harm (psychological trauma from knowing that images of your childhood abuse are online) and the unfortunate popularity of the photos (amongst the most widely-traded on the Internet). If the court were to divide up the tab now, what happens when another pedophile is convicted next week?

The oral arguments, again recapped by SCOTUSblog, consisted of confused justices trying to find a fair solution.

Making one person, who possessed one or two images, liable for all of the victim's psychological treatment is unfair. So is not providing restitution at all. Then again, can you show proximate causation attributable to that single image? And if you can, how do you apportion the blame?

Patent Proof

The court released one opinion today -- a unanimous reversal of the Federal Circuit's opinion in Medtronic v. Mirowski. We'll have more on the opinion, and the burden of proof in declaratory judgment patent infringement cases on our Federal Circuit blog later this week.

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