Ipse Dixit


From the Archives 73: Eldred v. Ashcroft Oral Argument (2003)

Season 1, Ep. 191

This is the oral argument from Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003). Here is the summary from Oyez:

Facts of the case
Under the Copyright and Patent Clause of the Constitution, Article 1, section 8, "Congress shall have Power...to promote the Progress of Science...by securing [to Authors] for limited Times...the exclusive Right to their...Writings." In the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), Congress enlarged the duration of copyrights by 20 years, making copyrights now run from creation until 70 years after the author's death. Petitioners, whose products or services build on copyrighted works that have entered the public domain, argued that the CTEA violates both the Copyright Clause's "limited Times" prescription and the First Amendment's free speech guarantee. They claimed Congress cannot extend the copyright term for published works with existing copyrights. The District Court and the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed.
Does the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act's extension of existing copyrights exceed Congress's power under the Copyright Clause? Does the CTEA's extension of existing and future copyrights violate the First Amendment?
No and no. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that Congress acted within its authority and did not transgress constitutional limitations in placing existing and future copyrights in parity in the CTEA. Disagreeing with the argument that a copyright once set is fixed, the majority found that the CTEA "continues the unbroken congressional practice of treating future and existing copyrights in parity for term extension purposes," and is a permissible exercise of Congress's power under the Copyright Clause. Moreover, the Court held that the CTEA's extension of existing and future copyrights does not violate the First Amendment. Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen G. Breyer dissented, arguing that the CTEA amounted to a grant of perpetual copyright that undermined public interests.

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Aliza Shatzman on Holding Judges Accountable

Season 1, Ep. 758
In this episode, Aliza Shatzman, an attorney and advocate based in Washington, DC, discusses her article "Untouchable Judges? What I've learned about harassment in the judiciary, and what we can do to stop it," which will be published in the UCLA Journal of Gender & Law. Here is the abstract:Drawing from the author’s own experience of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation during her clerkship and in the years following it by a former DC Superior Court judge, this Article analyzes the deficits in current federal and DC judicial reporting systems to demonstrate the urgent need for reform. I argue that harassment in the judiciary is pervasive, due to both enormous power disparities between judges and law clerks, and various institutional barriers that perpetuate misconduct and discourage reporting. I survey existing methods of judicial discipline in both the federal and DC Courts and argue that these provide insufficient redress for workplace misconduct. I then discuss the Judiciary Accountability Act (JAA) (HR 4827/S 2553), which would finally protect judiciary employees, including law clerks and federal public defenders, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enabling employees to sue their harassers and seek damages for harm done to their careers, reputations, and future earning potential. Furthermore, I argue that the DC Courts should be included in the JAA, because they are Article I courts created and regulated by Congress, and DC Courts judges are arguably federal judges for Title VII and disciplinary purposes. I also offer a variety of other proposed reforms, which would both strengthen the JAA and provide additional protections to uniquely vulnerable judiciary employees. I conclude by reflecting on my attempts to report the misconduct I experienced, how the systems failed me when I tried to report, and my efforts to seek justice for myself and accountability for the misbehaving former judge.This episode was hosted byBrian L. Frye, Spears-Gilbert Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Frye is on Twitter at@brianlfrye.