Today’s interesting Supreme Court lineup

May 19, 2014

The Supreme Court decided one case today, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  At issue was whether the doctrine of laches is available as a defense in a case of copyright infringement.  Put in lay terms, the question was whether it is appropriate for a court to dismiss a case because the plaintiff waited too long to file a claim where there is no statute of limitations or other statutory bar to the suit.  This specific case concerned the rights to MGM’s film “Raging Bull,” and the Court said laches could not be invoked.

Beyond the fact that this case concerns perhaps the greatest boxing movie of all time, the most interesting thing about the Court’s opinion is the lineup.  Justice Ginsburg wrote for the Court, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy.  This is an interesting  split, dividing the Court along the formalist-pragmatist lines that we sometimes see in criminal procedure cases.  The opinion is here.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
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