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AP v. United States: The Legal Ramifications

Hello all! My fellow justices and I have been discussing AP vs. United States for quite some time now and we are getting eager to hear the case. As we get closer to hearing the case, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the ramifications that this case could have on U.S. law and the interpretation of the Constitution.

If the court rules in favor of the Associated Press, I believe that the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act, which is part of the backbone of the United States government’s defense, will be called into question. When examining the PATRIOT Act from a Fourth Amendment perspective, its constitutionality is already a bit questionable, but American citizens have agreed that to sacrifice some of their privacy in order to stay safe. A win for the AP would inhibit the PATRIOT Act because if that precedent is set, it would make it more difficult for the government to obtain phone and email records without a proper reason or warrant.

If the court rules in favor of the United States, I believe that the PATRIOT Act will only be made stronger and the privacy of citizens will be even more diminished than it already is. I feel that the Fourth Amendment would also require modification if this outcome occurs. Currently, it states that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” and that this cannot be violated. If the court rules against the AP, I think that the amendment should be modified to something along the lines of, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,¬†against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,¬†except in the case of protecting national security.”

AP v. United States (2014)

Greetings! It is time to lay out the case that I’ll be examining in just a few shorts weeks. In 2008, AT&T customer Carolyn Jewel sued the phone company, saying that they were, more or less, spying on their customers. This accusation was backed up by documents from a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein. The case was eventually thrown out due to a lack of evidence, but was reopened by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Later, a whistleblower confirmed that the NSA was spying on people and the infamous Edward Snowden then revealed that the government has an internet surveillance system called PRISM. This, of course, comes after the Washington Post publication that revealed that the Justice Department had gotten their hands on phone conversations of employees from the Associated Press. The government, in turn, claimed that this privacy violation was part of their national defense policy.

As a result of these occurrences, we, the Supreme Court, are left to decide whether the government has overstepped their bounds. Anyone familiar with the famous Roe v. Wade case can probably presume how I feel about this case. For those who may be unaware, Roe v. Wade was the case that shaped abortion as we know it today. In 1969, Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe, wanted to terminate her pregnancy via abortion, but Texas law prohibited this unless a woman’s life was in danger should she continue with the pregnancy. The Court decided, in a majority decision that I penned, that this case fell under a woman’s right to privacy, and that she should be able to decide whether she wants to have an abortion. I felt very strongly about this case, feeling this right fell under the fundamental right to privacy.

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Which First Amendment freedom could we live without?

While it seems nearly impossible to imagine life in the United States without all the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition), I feel that the freedom we could most afford to live without is freedom of petition. When pondering this question, I quickly eliminated three of the options–religion, speech and press–feeling that they are essential to the democracy that we have today. As a staunch proponent of the separation of church and state, I feel that the government should take absolutely no stance on religion. Without the freedom to speak freely and to criticize the government, we really don’t have much of a democracy at all. A democracy is supposed to be a government that is, “by the people and for the people,” so censoring the people would create the exact opposite of that. Finally, without freedom of the press, the people would lose an outlet with which they can express their free speech and be properly informed on what is happening in the country. Thus, I was left a choice between living without freedom of assembly or freedom of petition. I came to the decision that freedom of petition was the one I felt we could live without the easiest. I decided this because I feel that, if people have the right to free speech and free press in addition to the freedom to assemble, to come together in a peaceful manner in the name of a particular cause or belief, they can still make a similar impact to what a petition would have. When someone speaks out against something, writes something in the press, or a group comes together to protest against something, these people are publicly advocating for change in a certain area. With all these other rights in place, the American people could still generate enough pressure on whoever their message is to (government, company, etc.) to produce their desired change without the need for the right to petition.

My name is Harry Blackmun

Justice_Blackmun_OfficialHello, I am Harry Blackmun and I served as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court for 24 years after being appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. I grew up in Minnesota and was good friends with Warren Burger, who later served on along side me on the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice. My judicial philosophy was a conservative one, although I was later accused of becoming more and more liberal over the years; I think the court just got more conservative! In regards to the First Amendment, I was a passionate proponent of the separation of church and state, believing that the government should not take a stance one way or the other on religion, and commercial speech, believing that First Amendment rights also applied to advertising (although it certainly still needed some regulations). The case I am most famous for is the Roe v. Wade case of 1973, where I contributed in the decision that the government cannot restrict abortion rights. As was to be expected, I received a lot of criticism from conservatives over this decision.

 

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