Saturday, January 29, 2011

Legislation in the News Contest -- Week One

Thanks to everyone who submitted news stories to Professor Heyman's Legislation in the News contest for the first week. A lot of great stories were submitted, covering topics from new laws to help the families of autistic children, to a bill to legalize Sunday hunting in Virginia, to a post that argued that Apple Computers, Inc., should have a duty to disclose information about Steve Jobs's health as "material information" under the federal securities laws because of its impact on the value of Apple's stock.

This week we have two co-winners. Marc Minarich submitted the best legislative process story of the week, an Associated Press story about how efforts to restrict the filibuster were largely rejected by the Senate this week. As the story reports:

The filibuster lives on. The Senate voted overwhelmingly late Thursday to reject efforts to change its rules to restrict the blockades that have sewn gridlock and discord in recent years on Capitol Hill.

Instead, senators settled on a more modest measure to prevent single lawmakers from anonymously holding up legislation and nominations, and the parties' Senate leaders announced a handshake deal to conduct business in a more efficient and civilized way.

* * * * *

Senators were emphatic in their votes against limiting the filibuster, a treasured right of minorities trying to prevent majorities from running roughshod over them. Many Democrats, while now in the majority, envisioned a day, perhaps as early as after the 2012 election, when they would return to the minority.
The full story can be found here.

Bridget Maul submitted the best statutory interpretation story -- a story about whether the Freedom of Information Act' s protections for "personal privacy" apply to corporations. This issue is now before the Supreme Court in a case called FCC v. ATT, and the story reports on the oral argument in the case:

The interpretation of complex legal verbiage is the Supreme Court's bailiwick, but sometimes the outcome of a case falls upon the meaning of single word. The magic word in an appeal argued Wednesday was "personal," and whether it extends beyond humans to "artificial" entities like corporations.
Telecom giant AT&T wants "personal privacy" protections applied to businesses, just as they have long been granted to individuals.
At issue is whether corporate "personhood" extends to the Freedom of Information Act, which exempts the public release of government documents that invade personal privacy. The company wants material gathered by a federal agency during a consumer investigation to be kept secret.
The full story can be found here.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted stories this week, and congratulations to Marc and Bridget. Submissions for the coming week's contest are due by 9 a.m. on Friday, February 5.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Emanuel's Residency

On Thursday evening, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Rahm Emanuel satisfies the residency requirement to run for mayor of Chicago. In an opinion by Justice Thomas, five members of the Court insisted that the law of residency in Illinois had been settled for almost 150 years and sharply criticized the appellate court for devising a new standard of its own creation. In a separate opinion, Justices Freeman and Burke disagreed that the law was as clear or settled as the majority claimed, but they agreed that Emanuel had not lost his residency status simply because he had rented out his house while served as White House Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C.

A Chicago Tribune story about the case can be found here, and the Supreme Court opinions can be found here.