Friday, June 30, 2006

[Posible SPAM] big decision today

Legal Blog Watch


Hamdan: The Court's Big Decision Today
Earlier today, the Supreme Court announced its long-awaited decision in U.S. v. Hamdan, which addressed the legality of the Bush admistration's policy of ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees. As summarized by the SCOTUS Blog, in a 5-3 the Court held that President Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva conventions. But several of the justices suggested that Bush could return to Congress to seek the authorization that the Court found lacking. Other notable tidbits from the case:  Justice Thomas, who dissented, read his opinion from the bench, the first time he's done so in 15 years on the court.  And Justice Roberts recused himself; it was his D.C. Circuit ruling in Hamdan that the Supreme Court reversed.

Reviews and summaries of the decision are coming in all over the online media and blogosphere. Summaries of the ruling can be found here (Gina Holland, Associated Press) and here (John O'Neil and Scott Shane at New York Times). Blogger Orin Kerr remarks preliminarily that Justice Kennedy's concurrence reflects a belief that "Congress'  views are supreme," and Peter Lattman at WSJ Law Blog profiles Neal Kaytal, the Georgetown Law professor whose argument for Hamdan was his maiden voyage at the Supreme Court. SCOTUS blog features guest commentary from Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation, who begins  his post with his opinion that "I'd be surprised if any of the holdings in today's Hamdan decision end up having large practical significance." And also at SCOTUS is this post from Lyle Deniston, who writes that Hamdan is notable for what it did not decide, including the question of whether or not there actually exists a "presidential 'inherent power' of the kind that President Bush claims under his commander-in-chief powers."

The Hamdan discussion continues in the blogosphere. For more related posts, just visit this Technorati link.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2006 at 04:03 PM | Permalink

Competitors Sue Craigslist for Discrimination
Craigslist, an online classified ad Web site that doesn't charge to place or post ads, defied conventional wisdom that advertising needs to cost money. But now, per this here post by Craig Williams of  May It Please the Court, looks like Craigslist is breaking new ground for another reason: it's been sued for violations of housing discrimination laws, not by victims of discrimination or special-interest groups but by its "for fee" competitors:  newspapers. 

Williams' post explains that newspapers are required to comply with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requirements on nondiscriminatory housing ads, whereas Craigslist does not. Forcing Craigslist to monitor ads to ensure compliance with housing law and other nondiscrimination laws would increase costs for Craigslist and, perhaps, force it to charge for postig ads. Williams points out that Craigslist should not be treated the same as newspapers because "ads on CraigsList are free and posted by individuals. Ads in newspapers cost, and they are posted by newspaper staff." But ultimately, Judge Amy St. Eve in Chicago will decide if that distinction will save Craigslist. In addition, Craigslist has friends in high places, like Google, AOL and eBay, which filed an amicus curiae brief, arguing that Craigslist is protected from liability for HUD violations in the same way the phone companies and Internet providers are protected from liability for violations of the law occurring over their wires. 

Williams comments:

It didn't help that CraigsList has taken a lot of housing ads away from newspapers, which may be the real genesis for the lawsuit. Especially when the ads are free.  That's a lot of lost revenue, and the HUD claim is a creative attempt to stopgap that lost revenue stream.

I'd be interested in knowing, as a practical matter, how many of Craigslist's ads actually violate housing discrimination laws. Do newspapers have standing to bring these claims at all? They may argue they're disadvantaged by compliance with discrimination laws, but they're not the parties that the laws were intended to protect. Seems that the court should at least wait until a truly injured party complains to rule on these issues.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 29