Supreme Court Returns to Consider Health Care, GPS Technology, Strip Searches and More

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Lawyers for the Obama administration have appealed the decision, arguing in court papers that all the jeep's movements were "unquestionably exposed to public view," and therefore Jones did not have a "justifiable expectation that his public movements would remain invisible to private or government observation."

The court will also consider whether the act of actually attaching the device onto the car was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Lawyers for Jones say that the government could not justify violating Jones' privacy by arguing that it was doing something that any member of the public could do on public property.

"You may understand that your neighbor can observe you on a public street, " said Walter Dellinger, a lawyer for Jones, "but what you cannot expect is that a neighbor would attach a GPS to your car and disclose your every movement."

Fleeting Expletives and the Government's Policy on Indecency

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge brought by broadcast television against the government's policy on indecency on the airwaves from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

At issue are the "fleeting expletives" uttered by celebrities such as Cher and Nicole Richie televised during prime time on Fox Television, as well as an episode of "NYPD Blues" on ABC that showed a woman's unclothed backside.

The Federal Communications Commission, charged with regulating indecency over public airwaves, ruled in both instances that the broadcasters had violated its policy.

But the broadcasters struck back in court, arguing that the policy was confusing and inconsistently applied. They pointed out, for example, that while the FCC bans some expletives in some instances, it sanctioned the use of pervasive expletives during a World War II film, "Saving Private Ryan."

A lower court sided with the broadcasters and struck down the policy, ruling that it was unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court will review the policy at a time when broadcast networks are no longer the only show in town. Audiences sometimes actually fail to differentiate between broadcasts and the programming shown on cable networks and the Internet.

"The ever-increasing forms of media communication obscure the fact that there are differences in how and when government may regulate some content," said Stephen Wermiel of American University Washington College of Law.

"For example, the FCC still had authority to regulate the broadcast media, under the longstanding theory that the airwaves are a scarce valuable government owned resource that TV and radio are allowed to use through licenses. This subjects TV and radio to controls that cable, and Internet providers don't have to deal with."

In court briefs the government defended the FCC's policy, arguing the "pervasiveness of foul language, and the coarsening of public entertainment in other media such as cable, justify more stringent regulation of broadcast programs so as to give conscientious parents a relatively safe haven for their children."

Strip Search: Balancing Individual Privacy Against the Need for Prison Security

Several years ago, Albert Florence was arrested for a minor violation and was late in paying the accompanying fine. A warrant was issued for his arrest. He eventually paid off the fine. But when his car was stopped for a driving violation a few years later, the officer could find no evidence in his computer that the fine had been paid, and arrested Jones pursuant to an outstanding warrant.

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