4 posts tagged law
Should religious believers be exempt from laws the rest of Americans must follow, if those laws conflict with the teachings of their faith? The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision soon in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, a case in which that question is very much at issue. The owners of the craft-store chain, who are Christian, claim a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act, arguing that to be forced to pay for insurance that covers certain kinds of birth control, like Plan B, which they believe can cause abortions, would violate their First Amendment right to freely exercise their faith. Much of the debate surrounding that case has focused on whether a corporation can claim the rights of an individual citizen, and whether a religious exemption should be granted even if other people (female employees of Hobby Lobby) will be harmed. There has been less attention paid to the justness of such exemptions in general. Religious freedom is sometimes called the “first freedom,” because the imperative that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” opens the First Amendment. But a growing number of legal scholars say that granting believers privileges denied to other people with strong ethical views no longer makes sense, if it ever did.
EVER since the 1930s, self-driving cars have been just 20 years away. Many of those earlier visions, however, depended on changes to physical infrastructure that never came about - like special roads embedded with magnets. Fast forward to today, and many of the modern concepts for such vehicles are intended to work with existing technologies. These supercomputers-on-wheels use a variety of onboard sensors - and, in some cases, stored maps or communications from other vehicles - to assist or even replace human drivers under specific conditions. And they have the potential to adapt to changes in existing infrastructure rather than requiring it to alter for them. Infrastructure, however, is more than just roads, pavements, signs and signals. In a broad sense, it also includes the laws that govern motor vehicles: driver licensing requirements, rules of the road and principles of product liability, to name but a few. One major question remains though. Will tomorrow’s cars and trucks have to adapt to today’s legal infrastructure, or will that infrastructure adapt to them?
Supreme Court justices are to meet privately Friday to weigh whether they will hear a major genetic-privacy case testing whether authorities may take DNA samples from anybody arrested for a serious crime. The case has wide-ranging implications, as at least 21 states and the federal government have regulations requiring suspects to give a DNA sample upon arrest. In all the states with such laws, DNA saliva samples are cataloged in state and federal crime-fighting databases. The issue confronts the government’s interest in solving crime, balanced against the constitutional rights of those arrested to be free from government intrusion. The case before the justices concerns a decision in April of Maryland’s top court, which said it was a breach of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure to take DNA samples from suspects who have not been convicted. The Maryland Court of Appeals, that state’s highest court, said that arrestees have a “weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches” and that expectation is not outweighed by the state’s “purported interest in assuring proper identification” of a suspect. (via Supreme Court Weighing Genetic Privacy | Threat Level | Wired.com)
We strongly support private property rights in space. And we believe in the power of private enterprise and are convinced that only entrepreneurship can lower the cost of doing business enough to fuel a space-based economy. On these important points we agree with Rand Simberg.But we disagree completely on the path America should take to achieve space property rights.The basic idea is nothing new. In his book Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon, Virgiliu Pop tracked hundreds of outer-space property rights claims over thousands of years, from individuals, kings, and countries, under various theories of law. All have failed the test of time. (via How the U.S. Can Lead the Way to Extraterrestrial Land Deals | Wired Science | Wired.com)