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Akron Law Café

Corporate Campaign Contributions in Ohio

By Lynn Published: January 29, 2010

Last week I posted information on how to track corporate election contributions under federal election law.  This week I will show you where to find campaign contributions for Ohio elections.

States regulate campaign finance three ways: disclosure, contribution limits and public financing.   All states require some level of disclosure on the amount and source of contributions and expenditures.  Until recently, states could limit the amount and source of campaign contributions which included corporate giving.  Several states offer public financing to candidates or political parties.  There are limits and regulations associated with public financing and the grants only cover a small portion of the campaign costs.  Source. 

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Some Thoughts on the Shareholder Protection Argument in Citizens United

By Stefan Published: January 28, 2010

And some reflections on what an interesting 5 years it has been.  All here.

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Congress Considers Return to Notice Pleading

By Bernadette Published: January 27, 2010

     Bills pending in Congress may return pleadings in federal courts to the "notice pleading"  standard.      In its 2007 decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twomblythe United States Supreme Court concluded that notice pleading, as defined in its prior case of Conley v. Gibson, would no longer control the factual detail that must be pleaded for a complaint in federal court to survive a motion to dismiss.  In Conley, the Court had concluded that not much in the way of factual detail would be necessary in a complaint. 

     In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, decided in 2009, the Court clarified that the new "plausibility" standard of Twombly would apply to all complaints, not just antitrust complaints or complaints in other complex cases.  Iqbal further elaborated on the "plausibility" standard.  The Iqbal Court confirmed that a court must still accept all factual allegations of the complaint as true, but emphasized that this requirement is not applicable to legal conclusions that a plaintiff may allege: "Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions."  Further, the Court reiterated that only a "plausible" claim for relief will survive a motion to dismiss and discussed "facial plausibility" as follows: 

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China's Legal Soul - The Modern Chinese Legal Identity in Historical Context

By Diana Published: January 26, 2010

Akron Law will host a lecture by John Head, professor of law at the University of Kansas School of Law. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled 'China's Legal Soul ' The Modern Chinese Legal Identity in Historical Context' and will be held Tuesday, Feb. 2  at 4 p.m. in Room 151 at Akron Law, 150 University Ave., Akron, Ohio. A reception will immediately follow the lecture.

In his presentation, Head will draw from his most recent book on Chinese law to offer observations on two key questions. First, is there a 'rule of law' in China ' and if so, what form does it take? Second, what might we consider the 'legal soul' of modern China, providing that vibrant society with its central spirit or ideology?  In addressing these issues, Head highlights the dramatic legal reform movement occurring in China today, almost exactly a century after the collapse of the (official) dynastic form of governance, in which Imperial Confucianism served (in Head's view) as the 'legal soul' of the society.

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How much money and to which candidate, did corporations donate in the last election?

By Lynn Published: January 22, 2010

The recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, deals with corporations, unions and other groups contributing to independent campaign advertising.  This case is discussed by others in this blog.     

Related to this case, did you know that campaign contributions are made publically available by the Federal Election Commission?  You can find out who contributed, how much to what candidate.   With a few extra steps you can trace it back to a corporation.  Instructions on how to find this information follows.

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It's all politics now.

By Brant Published: January 22, 2010

The fundamental premise of the Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC is that a corporation should have the same First Amendment rights to engage in political speech as any citizen, because a corporation is simply an "association of citizens" in the "corporate form." I think this is going to lead to the politicization of everyday economic life.

The Court's reasoning that corporate speech is simply the collective speech of individual citizens does ring true for certain non-profit, ideologically-oriented corporations, especially when they are membership-driven. When the NRA or the Sierra Club takes members' dues and uses that money to speak on political issues, they in a rough way are simply amplifying the voices of their members, even if an individual member disagrees with one policy or another advocated by the group. That person can always quit.

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2009-2010 Supreme Court Term: (6) Citizens United v. F.E.C.

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 21, 2010

    The Supreme Court today handed down its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  In this case the Supreme Court overrules longstanding precedent and gives corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign advertisements.  Here is a link to the decision on the Cornell website.  The Supreme Court site seems to be overwhelmed.  I will summarize the decision in a later posting.

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Supreme Court Expands Free Speech Rights of Legal Fiction

By Stefan Published: January 21, 2010

By a 5-4 vote--more here (you might need to scroll down a bit).

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12th Annual Richard C. Sughrue Symposium on Intellectual Property Law and Policy

By Diana Published: January 20, 2010

The 12th Annual Richard C. Sughrue Symposium on Intellectual Property Law and Policy will be held in Akron on March 8, 2010.  The featured luncheon speaker will be the newly-appointed Commissioner for Patents Robert L. Stoll.  The program will include presentations by leading practitioners and academics on the major issues of the day affecting intellectual property law.  Presenters will discuss, among other topics, the Bilski case, the proposed Google Books Library Project settlement, the doctrines of inequitable conduct and fraud, and the host of ethical and other issues associated with the practice of outsourcing work.

Early Bird Registration Fee $250 (on or before Feb. 22, 2010), Full Registration Fee $325 (after Feb. 22, 2010), Faculty Registration Fee $100, Student Registration FREE.  Online registration is now available.  Visit for further information.

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The U.S. Supreme Court Adds Procedural and Remedies Issues to Its Docket

By Bernadette Published: January 20, 2010

          Two of five cases the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear last week deal with the procedure or remedies that govern in federal court.  Both decisions may be important to federal court litigants in a wide variety of cases.

           In Krupski v. Costa Crociere, S.P.A., the Supreme Court will decide an issue regarding what constitutes a "mistake" for purposes of adding a defendant to a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run.  In some cases in which a defendant is not included in a case before the statute of limitations runs, Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(c) permits adding that defendant.  In such cases, the defendant  must have had such sufficient notice of the suit that it would not be prejudiced in defending the case, and the failure to include the defendant must have been because of a "mistake concerning the proper party's identity."

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2009-2010 Supreme Court Term: (5) United States v. Stevens (Part 1) - A Facial First Amendment Attack on a Federal Statute

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 19, 2010

     This term in the case of United States v. Stevens the Supreme Court will decide whether or not Congress has the power to enact a law prohibiting the production and sale of commercial videos depicting cruelty to animals.  The case presents a number of difficult problems under the First Amendment.  One of the issues that is directly presented by this case is whether the government has a compelling reason to prevent people from viewing images of acts of animal cruelty.  An even larger issue, in my opinion, is whether "obscenity" will remain limited to depictions of sexual conduct, or whether the Court will change the meaning of the term to include graphic images of gratuitous violence.  In this initial posting, however, I discuss a narrow, technical question - the difference between challenging a law "on its face" and challenging it "as applied" to the defendant.

     In 1999 Congress enacted and the President signed a statute entitled "Depiction of Animal Cruelty," codified at 18 U.S.C. 48, making it a crime to create, sell, or possess any video or audio recording of animal cruelty for the purpose of selling that recording for commercial gain.  Here is the entire text of the statute:

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United States v. Stevens: (Part 2) Oral Argument

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 19, 2010

      United States v. Stevens, the animal cruelty video case, was argued before the Supreme Court on October 6.  The transcript makes for a fascinating read, both from a forensic as well as a substantive perspective.

     Here is a link to the official transcript of oral argument in the case of United States v. Stevens.

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In Remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 18, 2010

     Here are some extended quotes from Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," links to several other of Dr. King's greatest speeches, and a link to President Barack Obama's speech yesterday in remembrance of Dr. King.

     On April 16, 1963, King released his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  First, King explains why he has come to Alabama, and why he should not be considered an "outsider:"

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Does New Governance Still Matter in the Age of USA, Inc.?

By Stefan Published: January 16, 2010

I think so.  More here.

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U.S. Supreme Court - in Plain English

By Lynn Published: January 15, 2010

Who wouldn't like Supreme Court issues explained in easy to understand terminology?  The Supreme Court of the United States Blog (SCOTUSBLOG) is now publishing plain English summaries of the Questions Presented in each of the Supreme Court cases for this Term.   

Below, the blog has set out the questions for cases through April 2010, divided according to subject matter.  The cases are listed with their Plain English issue.

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Prop 8 Trial (Part 3): Briefs and Updates

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 15, 2010

     Here are some useful links to keep you up to date on the Prop 8 trial.

1.  A summary of the procedural aspects of the trial from my Constitutional Law website;

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Can you exercise business judgment without understanding risk?

By Stefan Published: January 14, 2010

Musings on that and more here.

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Prop 8 Trial: (2) Supreme Court Bars Cameras from Courtroom

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 13, 2010

     By a vote of 5-4 along the usual ideological lines, the Supreme Court today overturned the order of the trial judge that would have allowed the Prop 8 trial to be broadcast.

     Until late December of 2009 Civil Local Rule of Court 77-3 of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California prohibited the use of cameras in court - neither still photos nor broadcast of proceedings were permitted.  On December 23, Judge Vaughn Walker issued notice that he was amending the local rule to allow broadcast of trials in the discretion of the court.  On December 31, the judge invited the public to comment on the amendment to Rule 77-3.  On January 8, Judge Walker issued an order amending the rule and stating that the Prop 8 trial would be broadcast.  The defendants requested a stay from the United States Supreme Court that would prohibit the trial from being broadcast.  Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendants, and ruled that cameras would not be allowed. 

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The Prop 8 Trial - Introduction

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 13, 2010

     Here are some links to information about the Prop 8 trial, and some analysis to put the trial in perspective.

     In May of 2008 in the case entitled In re Marriage Cases the California Supreme Court ruled that it was unlawful under the California Constitution for the State of California to establish two equivalant legal relationships but to call them by different names - "marriage" for heterosexual couples, and "domestic partnerships" for gay and lesbian couples.  In the November elections later that same year the people of the State of California narrowly voted to approve Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution that provides:

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Net Neutrality - Where It Stands in Court and in Congress

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 12, 2010

     "Net neutrality" is the rule that internet service providers should not be permitted to promote their own information services by blocking or slowing down the transmission of information from other sources - it is the principle that information should be available to all users on an equal basis.  Here is a summary of where "net neutrality" presently stands in the courts and in Congress.

     On October 19, 2007, Peter Svensson of the AP reported that Comcast, a major internet service provider, was interfering with peer-to-peer applications allowing file-sharing of movies or television shows and audio/video connections such as Skype by surreptitiously breaking connections between users.  Comcast had previously assured the F.C.C. that it was not engaging in this conduct, but after the publication of Svensson's article it was forced to admit that it had.  This was in violation of a "policy statement" that had been issued by the F.C.C. prohibiting discrimination of this sort by ISPs.  As a result, the internet consumer organization Public Knowledge filed a complaint against Comcast before the Federal Communications Commission.  Comcast agreed to stop this practice, but the F.C.C. wanted more - it entered an order requiring Comcast to disclose to the agency any other regulation of internet traffic that it engages in.  Comcast filed a petition in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging both the authority of the F.C.C. to regulate the internet, and the procedure that the F.C.C. followed in entering its order against Comcast.  Here is a link to the brief filed by Comcast, in which Comcast claims that when Congress enacted deregulation legislation it stripped the F.C.C. of the power to oversee internet service providers.  At page 15 of its brief Comcast states:

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Health Care Financing Reform: (103) The New CMS Report on the Senate Bill Describes Who Will Be Covered and Who Will Not, and States That Prevention and Wellness Programs Won't Reduce Costs

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 11, 2010

     The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued another report estimating the financial and coverage effects of the health care reform bill as adopted by the Senate on December 24, 2009.  The good news is that CMS believes that the Senate bill will expand health insurance coverage to 34 million more people.  The biggest disappointment is its conclusion that prevention and wellness programs will not reduce the overall cost of medical care. 

     Here is the new CMS report as posted by Modern Health Care.  The report estimates the effect that the health care reform bill adopted by the Senate would have on federal expenditures and total health care expenditures, as well as predicting how many more people will be covered by health insurance. 

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The Grant of Limited Liability as Governmental Taking

By Stefan Published: January 9, 2010

Worth at least one more click.

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Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (Part 6): Does a Religious Organization Have Greater Constitutional Rights to Discriminate than Other Groups?

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 9, 2010

     In this final installment on this pending case I discuss whether or not a religious organization like CLS has a constitutional right to discriminate that is superior to the rights that other advocacy groups might have.

     In five previous posts I have introduced the pending Supreme Court case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, laid out the breadth of constitutional issues that are implicated, and discussed CLS's First Amendent claims under the doctrines of equal access to a public forum, expressive association, and the free exercise of religion.  In this sixth post I suggest that CLS may try to argue that, as a religious organization, the discrimination that it practices against gays, lesbians, and people of other faiths is on a higher plane and should receive more constitutional protection than discrimination by other, non-religious organizations.

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Side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate Health Care Proposals

By Lynn Published: January 8, 2010

The New York Times compares the House and the Senate Health Care Proposals on 16 key issues.  Some of the major issues compared are:  individual mandates, employer contributions, subsidies for individuals, abortion coverage, illegal immigration coverage, cost and coverage of the two proposals and who pays for the proposals.

At the New York Times Health Care page, choose a category on the left to see a comparison of the House and Senate versions on the right.

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Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (Part 5): The Free Exercise Claim

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 8, 2010

     We have seen in the two previous posts that CLS faces an uphill battle against Hastings Law School in its First Amendment claims based on "expressive association" and "equal access to a public forum."  Under existing doctrine, it will be equally difficult for CLS to win with yet another First Amendment claim under the Free Exercise Clause, for reasons discussed below.  That is why CLS may get creative and try to establish new doctrine - that discrimination by a religious body is different from and more protected than discrimination by non-religious advocacy organizations.

     In order to become a member of CLS, a Hastings Law Student must make the following "statement of faith":

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It's getting hot in here, but you'd never know it from my poker face.

By Stefan Published: January 7, 2010

Check out my latest posts at the BLPB: Musings about a "poker for law students" course, and a link to an interesting article on the materiality of climate change.

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Health Care Financing Reform: (102) News Update

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 7, 2010

     Here is a summary of what is happening with the health care reform legislation pending in Congress.

     As expected, House and Senate leaders, in cooperation with the White House, have chosen to informally work out the differences between the bills that passed their respective chambers, rather than by means of a formal conference committee.  Janet Adamy of the Wall Street Journal reports on criticism of the fact that negotiations over the final terms of the legislation are not occurring in public - C-Span has even offered to broadcast the negotiations.  Adamy notes, however, that even when differences between bills are ironed out by conference committees, most of the negotiations occur in private meetings.  Adamy also reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled that the bill can move forward without the public option.  That was a foregone conclusion in light of the opposition of several Democratic senators to a new government-operated health insurance program. 

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Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (Part 4): The Expressive Association Cases

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 7, 2010

     Another argument that CLS will advance in support  its claim that Hastings Law School should be compelled to recognize it as an official student organization is its contention that the law school is interfering with its rights as an "expressive association."  Here is a history of that doctrine, and a summary of two of the most relevant cases.

     Much of constitutional law grew out of the civil rights movement - more specifically, in reaction to the attempt of several southern states to quash the movement.  For example, the first appearance of the "state action" doctrine - the idea that private organizations might have engaged in "state action," and that its conduct was therefore subject to the requirements of the Constitution - came in the 1944 case of Smith v. Allright, because the Texas Democratic Party had excluded blacks from membership.  The "public forum" cases owe much to cases like Edwards v. South Carolina (1963), holding that civil rights marchers could not be arrested for peacefully protesting on the grounds of the statehouse.  The "actual malice" test under the First Amendment originated in the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, when southern officeholders, with assistance of the state courts, sought to silence northern newspapers from covering the civil rights movement through a series of libel actions.  And modern Equal Protection doctrine stems from the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

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Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez (Part 3) - Prior Cases Involving Equal Access to Campus Funding and Facilities

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 6, 2010

     One of the strongest arguments that the Christian Legal Society will assert in its case challenging Hastings Law School's refusal to recognize it as an official student organization is based upon a series of Supreme Court decisions establishing the rights of student or community groups to equal access to school funding and facilities.  The CLS reliance on these cases is undermined, however, by two facts.  First, Hastings allows CLS to meet on school property - it simply denies CLS funding and the right to use the Hastings name and logo.  Second, Hastings does not prohibit "religious organizations" or "religious activities" among its student organizations - instead it refuses to recognize student organizations that discriminate in their membership policies on the basis of several factors, including religion and sexual orientation.

     There are five principal decisions of the Supreme Court that govern student access to campus facilities and funding.  Each case is briefly described below.

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Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez (Part 2)

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 5, 2010

     The difficulty of this case stems from the number of constitutional doctrines and principles which are intertwined, a tangled skein of general rules and fundamental values.

     Yesterday's post introduces the case.  The Christian Legal Society is a student organization at Hastings Law School that in 2004 adopted rules requiring that in order to become members of the organization students must take an oath expressing their adherence to specific religious beliefs.  As construed by the CLS, the oath and the duty to conform to it would exclude sexually active gay and lesbian students.  The law school refuses to recognize student organizations that discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation, and accordingly the law school withdrew recognition of CLS, thus depriving the organization of the right to use the name and logo of the institution, access to certain facilities at the law school, access to e-mail lists of students, and funding.

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2009-2010 Supreme Court Term: (4) Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez (Part 1) - Do Universities Have to Recognize (and Fund) Student Religious Organizations That Discriminate?

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 3, 2010

     This term Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Christian Legal Society Chapter v. Martinez.  In today's post I will introduce the topic, and in subsequent posts I will analyze different aspects of the case.

     On December 7, 2009, the Supreme Court entered an order granting certiorari in Case No. 08-1371, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. 

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Please Support the Grand Re-Opening of the Business Law Prof Blog

By Stefan Published: January 2, 2010

Starting today, I will be posting at the Business Law Prof Blog on Saturdays and Thursdays.  It's a 30-day trial run, so your support would be greatly appreciated.

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Is Racial, Ethnic, or Religious Profiling the Key to Airline Safety?

By Wilson Huhn Published: January 2, 2010

     Profiling is one element of airport screening intended to keep us safe, but it is not a magic bullet.  In light of what we learned from the attempted airliner bombing over Detroit on Christmas day, profiling is nowhere near sufficient to ensure airline safety.

     In the wake of the attempted bombing of the Northwestern flight on descent into Detroit on Christmas day, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich authored an article published in Human Events calling upon our government to use racial profiling in combatting terrorism, specifically in the screening of airline passengers.  Instead of grappling with the hard questions that profiling presents, Gingrich elects to demogogue the issue.  He states:

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