Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim." -- Justice Scalia during oral argument yesterday

So were some of those election results...

Here's the NY Times article on the violent video game argument in the Supreme Court:

The law would impose $1,000 fines on stores that sell violent video games to people under 18. It defined violent games as those “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” in a way that is “patently offensive,” appeals to minors’ “deviant or morbid interests” and lacks “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
“What’s a deviant violent video game?” asked Justice
Antonin Scalia, who was the law’s most vocal opponent on Tuesday. “As opposed to what? A normal violent video game?”
“Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim,” he added. “Are you going to ban them, too?”
Stephen G. Breyer took the other side. He said common sense should allow the government to help parents protect children from games that include depictions of “gratuitous, painful, excruciating, torturing violence upon small children and women.”

Scalia got the better of Alito in this exchange:

But Justice Scalia said there was nothing in the tradition of American free speech that would allow the government to ban depictions of violence. The thought, he said, would have been foreign to the drafters of the First Amendment, drawing a needling comment from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the lone dissenter in the Stevens case.
“What Justice Scalia wants to know,” Justice Alito said, “is what James Madison thought about video games.”
“No,” Justice Scalia responded, “I want to know what James Madison thought about violence.”

And they better not ban Mortal Kombat!

Justice Elena Kagan, the court’s newest and youngest member, seemed to be the only justice with even a passing familiarity with the genre under review, even if it was secondhand.
“You think Mortal Kombat is prohibited by this statute?” she asked Mr. Morazzini. It is, she added, “an iconic game which I am sure half the clerks who work for us spent considerable time in their adolescence playing.”
Mr. Morazzini said the game was “a candidate” for government regulation.

There was another big oral argument yesterday -- US v. Skilling:

A three-judge appeals court panel grilled attorneys for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and the government on Monday, trying to decide whether to throw out or order new trials on any of Skilling's 19 convictions.
His defense lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, argued the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that the government was wrong to use a particular legal theory in charging Skilling with conspiracy means that charge and the remaining 18 should be thrown out.
The government contends that a rational jury would have convicted even without the faulty theory that he deprived Enron of his "honest services," because evidence overwhelmingly supported Skilling's guilt.
But the hearing, in which each side had 30 minutes to provide oral arguments, was more about the judges' questions than the lawyers' answers.
Judge Edward Prado asked if it would make more sense for the federal district court where Skilling was tried in 2006 to decide the issues raised by the Supreme Court decision.
Determining if the "honest services" theory tainted the other charges would involve digging into the voluminous details of the five-month trial, Prado said.
Petrocelli said nothing would prevent the appeals court from sending the issue to the trial judge, but that the question is one of law.
"The court isn't being asked to act as a 13th juror," or guess what the original jury was thinking, Petrocelli said. Rather it needs to look at the court record and determine if a "reasonable jury" could find Skilling not guilty based on the evidence.
"The record is filled with acquittal evidence," Petrocelli said.

You can access the audio of yesterday's Fifth Circuit oral argument via this link (53.7MB Windows Media audio file). Why don't we have that in the 11th Circuit?


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

A recent Bloomberg poll shows that 52% of voters thought that “middle class” federal income taxes have gone up in the last two years, even though they have actually gone down. The same survey also found that 61% believe that the economy has shrunk during the past year, even though it has actually grown slightly.