DIGITAL PRIVACY WINS THE DAY | Stocks Take A Dip, Jeff Bezos Won’t Bat An Eye | High Court Ducks Another Big Question
June 22, 2018
The justices ruled today that the government generally needs a warrant to gain access to cell-tower records — an investigative method officials like to use in order to track a person by looking at their cell phone data. CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS penned the court’s opinion, joining the liberal justices in a 5-4 split. Roberts cited the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of being free from unreasonable searches and wrote, “Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities. At the same time, this tool risks government encroachment of the sort the Framers, after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”
TAKING A DIP|
ICYMI, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that states can now force internet retailers to collect taxes on purchases even if those retailers don’t have a physical presence in the state. Michael J. de la Merced for The New York Times reports that shares of Wayfair, Etsy and others took a hit from the ruling.
JEFF BEZOS WILL BE FINE|
But Slate’s Jordan Weissman doesn’t think Jeff Bezos or any of the internet giants will lose much sleep over the Supreme Court’s internet tax ruling. Weissman points out that most of these retailers were already collecting taxes on customers’ purchases.
ED BOARD OVERTURE|
The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times reacts to the internet sales tax decision and says the ruling “struck an important blow for fairness.” It similarly points out that the decision is unlikely to shake down the biggest of the online retail giants, but it’s likely that — as is true with all things — the little guys will get hurt the most.
SO THAT'S WHAT THIS IS REALLY ABOUT|
“The Supreme Court sidestepped a constitutional dispute Thursday over the scope of the president’s power to fire high-level federal employees,” reports David Savage with the Los Angeles Times. He reviews the justices’ decision to clarify the designation of SEC administrative judges and identify them as “officers” of the United States that must be named by top political appointees. Savage notes the implications of the case and says, “The court brushed aside a request from Trump administration lawyers to broadly declare the president has power to fire any federal official with significant authority a move seen by some as laying the foundation for firing special counsel ROBERT S. MUELLER III, who is handling the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.”
ON AND ON, RECKLESS ABANDON|
“Five Supreme Court justices decided to clean up some past mistakes on Thursday, and the rest of us are going to pay for it. That’s the big consequence from a ruling that liberates state and local politicians to tax the internet nationwide with abandon.” That’s the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal also reacting to Thursday’s internet tax decision. The Ed Board notes that the decision is one all Americans will have to pay for, and that Congress “now needs to act to prevent this considerable damage.”
“Minimalism made a lot of sense in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Americans are divided about the relationship between religious liberty and gay rights. In the face of that division, federal judges should be humble. They should refrain from resolving the most controversial questions when they do not need to do so.”The New York Times
“This ruling subjects small internet-based businesses to ‘taxation without representation.’ The seller must now calculate, collect and remit sales taxes to whichever state a buyer lives in, including those in which the seller has no stores or employees and no voting power or political voice. Online businesses will now be responsible for adhering to this compliance burden and could be audited as a result.”Bloomberg
“This exercise in seemingly enlightened policy-making, though, has been the work not of those elected to make policy, in Congress, or even those appointed by the president to make it, in the regulatory agencies. Instead, it has been done entirely by the people appointed by the president to decide legal disputes ‘between a State and Citizens of another State,’ to cite the constitutional language that seems most appropriate in this case.”