Stephen Breyer on Technology

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Clinton 1994)


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On intellectual property & distribution of freelance material: As a district court judge in 1997, Sotomayor heard a case brought by a group of freelance journalists who asserted that various news organizations, including the New York Times, violated copyright laws by reproducing the freelancers' work on electronic databases and archives such as "Lexis/Nexis" without first obtaining their permission. Sotomayor ruled against the freelancers and said that publishers were within their rights as outlined by the 1976 Copyright Act. The appellate court reversed Sotomayor's decision, siding with the freelancers, and the Supreme Court upheld the appellate decision (therefore rejecting Sotomayor's original ruling). Justices Stevens and Breyer dissented, taking Sotomayor's position. (Tasini vs. New York Times, 1997)
Source: CNN report on upcoming Sotomayor hearings , Aug 1, 2009

Congress can make laws restricting salacious "signal bleed"

Justice Breyer found himself in dissent when the Court struck down a law aimed at preventing sexually explicit channels, like the Playboy Channel, having their visual or audio signal intruding ("bleeding") into homes of viewers who had not subscribed to such salacious stuff. Signal bleed, as it is called, was obviously a serious problem for parents concerned about their children.

The majority invalidated the law on First Amendment grounds [because] the same result could have been achieved through less intrusive methods.

But to Justice Breyer, these were technical issues calling for judicial modesty and deference to Congress. Reaching across the usual philosophical lines, Justice Breyer authored the main dissenting opinion in the case, joined by Scalia, Rehnquist, and O'Connor. Breyer expressed the need for deference to Congress's judgment in seeking to shield children from unwanted adult-programming signals. To Justice Breyer, Congress knows best.

Source: First Among Equals, by Kenneth Starr, p. 38-39 , Oct 10, 2002

Other Justices on Technology: Stephen Breyer on other issues:
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Sonia Sotomayor
Clarence Thomas

Former Justices:
Antonin Scalia
David Souter
Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
John Paul Stevens

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Page last updated: Sep 27, 2016