Cell phones and privacy
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2018 was filled with drama in our nation’s capital, especially when it came to our nation’s highest court. Aside from political battles related to the last nominee; there were also many important rulings that affect everyday Americans. Boss Reporting has put together this review on some of the big cases and rulings of the Supreme Court in 2018.
1. Controversial travel ban
One of the most controversial cases over the last few years relates to the travel ban pertaining to people coming into the U.S. from certain countries. Two previous travel bans were ruled unconstitutional in federal courts. “Travel Ban 3.0” was upheld, restricting travel from specified countries.
“Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that Mr. Trump had ample statutory authority to make national security judgments in the realm of immigration,” according to the New York Times.
2. Taxing online purchases
Up till now, consumers have not had to pay sales tax when buying products from retailers that have no physical stores. All that changed last year. The Supreme Court ruled that each state could collect sales tax online-only transactions. “In this decision, the Court overturned a rule that states could only tax online transactions from stores that had a brick and mortar presence in that state,” according to ABC News.
Now online-only retailers like Overstock.com or Wayfair.com can be taxed just like brick and mortar retailers. While this can bring more tax revenue to states, some fear it could lead to higher prices for online purchase.
3. Cell phones and privacy
There has been a lot of controversy when it comes to privacy and what data government and law enforcement can legally collect. Law enforcement often seeks to get ahold of cell phone data when investigating a legal case. While this is often necessary, there has also been a lot of controversy pertaining to privacy, the Fourth Amendment, and when/how police can obtain cell phone data. The ruling, in this case, means police must obtain a warrant in order to access records from wireless companies.
“…The ruling means that the police have to show probable cause that cell phone data is important to an investigation before cell phone providers have to turn it over,” according to ABC News.
4. Public sector union fees
Unions often require all public employees to pay union fees, even if they disagreed with the way the money was used. The case centered on whether this is a violation of the First Amendment Right to free speech. The Supreme Court decided that it was. The ruling also made it so that employees had to give public sector employees the choice to “opt-in” or not.
5. Masterpiece Cakeshop
When a baker in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, he was sued. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker in a 7-2 majority, based on comments made by a state civil rights commission that indicated hostility toward religion.
6. Sports betting ban
Everyone knows betting on college and professional sports goes on. Unfortunately, it is illegal, thanks to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was passed in 1992. Last year, the Supreme Court decided the sports betting ban was unconstitutional. This particular case affected New Jersey but also expected to be applied in other states like Nevada.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” said Judge Samuel Alito.
The Supreme Court decided many important cases last years, and no doubt, 2019 will bring even more rulings and controversy. It is always a good thing when American citizens stay informed about decisions that could affect them.
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