As of January 1, 2004, anti-spam legislation takes effect that will
require e-mails to be sent without the use of false identities and with
valid postal addresses and legitimate opt-out reply functions. In addition,
if the e-mails are of a non-family nature, a warning must be attached.
This will probably send some spammers off-shore, however, it will hopefully
reduce unsolicited emails from domestic sources.
revisited. In its most significant ruling since striking down
a quota-based system 25 years ago, the Supreme court decided, on Monday,
that colleges and were at liberty to select students based, in part,
on their race. The Justices did, however, emphasize that race cannot
be the overriding factor in student selection. At issue was whether
admissions policies that give students of one race an edge unconstitutionally
discriminate against applicants from other groups. In two decisions
involving the University of Michigan, (the law school case is Grutter
v. Bollinger, 02-241; the undergraduate case is Gratz
v. Bollinger, 02-516) the court underscored that racial quotas are
unconstitutional but left room for the nation's public universities
-- and by extension other public and private institutions -- to take
race into account when making selections.
The Supreme court decisions are not expected to affect Nevada's higher
education system since no limit is placed on the number of undergraduate
students who can be accepted, as long as they meet scholastic requirements.
Association Health Plan legislation approved. The House
Education and Workforce Committee last week approved legislation (H.R.
660) sponsored by Rep. E. Fletcher (R-KY) that would encourage small
businesses to jointly form or join association health plans (AHPs) in
order to obtain more affordable health insurance for their employees.
Under this legislation AHPs would be allowed to operate across state
lines without being subject to most state regulation.
Silencing Telemarketers: Although unpopular with the
Direct Marketing Association,
a national 'do-not-call' list is at the rescue of those tired of having
cold calls from telemarketers interrupt dinner. The
Federal Trade Commission announced that starting July 1, it instigated
a national do-not-call list to block many sales calls. Consumers can
then register to be on the list for free by phone or online. Strangely,
calls on behalf of politicians are exempt!
Tax Lawsuit Joined by Illinois. Several large retailers that
are now charging taxes on Internet sales will become the target of a
law suit by the attorney general of Illinois, the goal of which is to
attempt to collect back taxes from those corporations. There is currently,
however, a Congressional moratorium on taxes on Internet purchases and
Internet access until a workable solution can be developed to ensure
such taxes do not add to the complexity and burden on businesses. The
moratorium, however, expires later this year.
Recently, a deal was reached among retailers and 37 states and D.C.
whereby consumers will pay sales tax based on the state in which they
reside as opposed to currently, whereby retailers only collect taxes
according to which they have a physical presence.
Amber Alert Bill
Passes in Congress. On April 10th Congress passed a package
of child safety protection messages, including a national 'Amber Alert'
Network. Within hours of the House of Representatives passing bill 400-25,
Senate approved it on a 98-0 vote. The President's signature is expected
to follow shortly. The legislation provides matching grants to states
and communities for equipment and training for the Amber Alert network,
which will distribute news of abductions through radio and TV broadcasts
as well as highway signs. The bill also reduces federal judges discretion
regarding criminal sentencing.
The passage of Amber Alert legislation was the goal of the family of
Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from Salt Lake City last year, and
is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9 year old Texas girl, who was the
victim of abduction and murder.
EPA Sides with
Environmentalists. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
is endorsing Massachusetts' low emissions program, which is causing
some surprise since the EPA's move is at odds with White House efforts
to overturn a similar law in which a California regulation is being
opposed by The Justice Department on the basis that the state has no
authority to create fuel economy mandates that conflict with federal
law. The President's stance is that further scientific study is required
before additional restrictions are placed on car emissions.
The EPA faces a potential new lawsuit. Seven states
announced they would file suit against the EPA unless agreement regarding
power plants emissions can be reached within 60 days. Every eight years
the EPA is required to analyze the health and environmental impacts
of power plant emissions, and the attorneys general of the seven states
accused the EPA of failing to do this. They will further argue that
the Clean Air Act includes carbon dioxide on the list of regulated emissions
because of its role in global warming.
Also on the subject of greenhouse gases, President Bush urged a cautious
approach to dealing with climate change and rejected the 1997 Kyoto
treaty as 'too costly'.
The ACLU has
launched a hard-hitting new
advertising campaign that depicts the Attorney General as an extremist
"editor" of the Bill of Rights. Claiming that such legislation
as the USA Patriot Act is eroding the freedoms of the American people
in favor of a 'radical ideology', the American Civil Liberties Union
has called on Americans to "stop the Ashcroft assault on our civil
The "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate
Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" (USA PATRIOT
Act) was designed to broaden the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement
following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act contains
new provisions governing criminal and foreign intelligence investigations
and in so doing, affects state and local privacy laws.
Web sites with information pertinent to the Patriot Act include:
American Library Association
for Constitutional Rights
This URL includes many more links related to the Patriot Act:
Act (.pdf or text format)
Summaries of decisions
from the Supreme Court are now available via Cornell Law School's Legal
Information Institute direct Project
HERMES feed. These are not the decisions themselves nor excerpts
from them, but summaries (syllabi) prepared by the Court's Reporter