Employment & Labor
The Changing Landscape of College Athletics: From Name, Image, and Likeness to Employment?
December 4, 2023 | Michael Greene
While news coverage tends to focus on only a handful of landmark decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court each term, the 50 high courts of each state issue hundreds of opinions each year that are equally impactful within their jurisdictions. State high courts have issued over 5,000 opinions in 2023 so far; with sixteen states issuing over 100 opinions. The activity of each court does, however, vary from state to state. For example, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, and Delaware are the most active state high courts and are responsible for almost 28 percent of all decisions this year.
These court decisions have just as much of an impact on public policy as the laws that we keep such a close eye on through the legislative process. To help you keep track of consequential decisions and their impact on state policy, MultiState has launched the Monthly Court Report, which offers a monthly recap of notable state high court decisions. These recaps will create a more dynamic picture of public policy trends today.
This month, while courts touched on a diverse array of issues, a notable number of state courts focused on privacy issues. With the ever increasing amount of data stored on the internet and shared servers, as well as the rise of artificial intelligence, technology related privacy issues are increasingly coming before the courts.
In the Colorado Supreme Court case of People v. Seymour, the court addressed the privacy of an individual’s internet search terms. In this case, the Denver Police Department was investigating an apparent arson that left five people dead. In the course of their investigation, the police obtained a “reverse-keyword warrant.” This warrant required Google to disclose the IP addresses associated with any devices that searched for the address of the suspected arson in the two weeks prior to its occurrence. The police were then able to use this information to locate and charge Seymour.
At the heart of the case is whether the warrant violated Seymour’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by lacking probable cause and particularity. Despite acknowledging Seymour’s constitutionally protected interests in his Google search history, the Court found in favor of the state. The Court found that the address filters provided by police and anonymity of the initial search sufficiently limited the scope of the search, satisfying the particularity requirement. The Court also ruled that as the evidence was obtained “by officers acting in objectively reasonable reliance on a warrant issued by a detached and neutral magistrate,” it should not be suppressed. Most interestingly, however, while the court failed to determine whether or not the warrant satisfied the probable cause requirement, it did indicate its impression of the matter. The court insinuated that the fact that the initial search was conducted by a computer and not individuals, in and of itself made the search permissible. Law enforcement officers were only given access to very specific information after the search was conducted, while the computer maintained the anonymity and privacy of the breadth of Google histories that it searched. Were the court to officially take this stance in a case opinion, one can only imagine the doors that would be opened to law enforcement investigations. Read more news coverage of the case here.
The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the legislature did not violate the law requiring that an act’s emergency clause be passed via a separate roll-call vote from the act itself, even though video evidence demonstrated that separate votes were not actually taken. The Court found that only the House and Senate’s official journals were pertinent, and these documents recorded the votes as separate. Read more.
The Georgia Supreme Court allowed the state’s six-week abortion ban to remain in effect while the law is being challenged in court. The case will return to the trial court for decisions regarding the remaining claims that the ban violates individuals’ rights to privacy and equal protection under the state constitution. Read more.
The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a property owner lacked standing to bring a case against an affordable housing development. The owner alleged that the development hindered her recreational enjoyment and the value of her property located approximately a mile away. The court found no causal connection between the affordable housing development and Plaintiff’s claims. Read more.
Kentucky’s Supreme Court struck down a new state law that would have permitted parties to cases involving constitutional challenges to switch the venue to a randomly selected county. The court found the law to be in violation of constitutional separation of powers. Read more.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that healthcare organizations may use patient data for fundraising purposes without a patient’s consent. Read more.
Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations regarding an insurer’s claim for coverage began on the evening that the fire started and not the day it was extinguished. Therefore, the insurer’s claim had been filed one day too late. Read more.
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the contents of slain journalist Jeff German’s electronic devices are protected by Nevada’s press shield law even after his death. Read more.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state’s governor did not have the right to control federal COVID-19 funds received during the pandemic but that the federal government’s grant of broad discretion required the legislature to control the funds instead. Read more.
New York’s Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York) ruled that the state did not violate constitutional protections when it used information contained in the state’s databanks to locate blood relatives of suspects who left genetic evidence at the scene of a crime. Read more.
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a property owner’s use of their home as a short-term rental did not violate a homeowner association requirement to use homes for “residential and no other purposes.” In making its decision, the court relied on the requirement that restrictions on property use must be clear and unambiguous. Read more.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that individuals serving sentences for both violent and nonviolent crimes are ineligible to receive enhanced credits for early release under the expanded sentence reduction program. Read more.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court voted to reduce the number of years that most eviction records must be kept on the state court website. Tenant rights advocates argued that maintaining the records for the previously required 20 years made it more difficult for low-income individuals to find housing. Read more.
December 4, 2023 | Michael Greene
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