Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Prof. Caplan writes ACLU Amicus Brief in Religious Freedom Case

Prof. Aaron Caplan was the primary author of an amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit in Ali v. Stephens, a case involving the religious rights of prisoners. He teaches courses in Constitutional Law and First Amendment, including freedom of religion.

David Rasheed Ali is an observant Sunni Muslim who is incarcerated by the state of Texas. He has a sincere religious belief that he should grow a beard about as long as his fist (three or four inches) and wear a kufi (a white, seamless, knit cap with small holes) during the day. The prison's rules forbid this, even though the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 requires prisons to accommodate religious exercise unless there is a "compelling" reason not to. Even after the prison lost in the trial court, and after the US Supreme Court held earlier in 2015 that the Act required a prison in Arkansas to allow an inmate to grow a religiously-motivated beard, Texas nonetheless appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Apple Loses Appeal in E-Books Antitrust Case

By Professor Jeffery Atik

This is an excerpt from Attraverso

Through a series of spectacular commercial moves, Apple succeeded in disrupting the e-book space upon its 2009 release of the iPad, sweeping away Amazon Kindle’s popular $9.99 pricing for new releases and for New York Times best-sellers. The iPad brought meaningful competition to Amazon’s wildly successful Kindle as an e-book platform; the emergence of this new distribution channel raised e-book prices, whether purchased on iPads or Kindles, seemingly defying an economic law of gravity. It was a coup that only a Steve Jobs could pull off. The e-book price shift attracted the attention of federal and state antitrust authorities. In 2012, the government brought a civil antitrust action against Apple and five major publishers. The book publishers settled, and the government proceeded in a price fixing claim against Apple. On June 30, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal trial court’s finding that Apple violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

Apple’s play in resetting the commercial terms of e-book distribution was brilliant, even if (as the courts have now determined) illegal. The Apple e-book case addresses some major issues in contemporary antitrust law. May a party, in a vertical relationship with a producers cartel, be found liable for price fixing? Does such a situation constitute a per se antitrust offense?

Read the full post on Attraverso