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Six Major Supreme Court Decisions Made Today

Aired June 25, 2001 - 10:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: Leon, a very, very busy day at the Supreme Court; six decisions came down today.

Charles Bierbauer is at the court, in the midst of what I understand is a kind of noisy demonstration there.

But Charles, tell us first about the decision regarding campaign spending.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I will. It's a demonstration about removing U.S. troops from Korea, which has nothing to do with the court.

The court took up the question of the coordinated campaign spending, when a political party -- in this case, the Republicans, in Colorado -- coordinated their spending with their candidate, and the court said, You cannot do that, or at least, only as subject to campaign spending limits. This harks back to the landmark ruling known as Buckley v. Valeo, in which the court said it is permissible to limit campaign contributions as a hedge against the corruption, while it was not permissible to limit campaign spending. What the court has said today, in a 5-4 opinion, is that those spending measures by the party amount to contributions to the candidates. So they said those may be limited.

That's the lead story, pretty much, out of the court today -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Charles, the court also waded into questions of the Internet and copyright protection. What did they have to say there?

BIERBAUER: The court has step by step been venturing into cyberlaw. This one involves copyright protection for freelance authors who had sued "The New York Times," Time Inc., and other organizations, saying that it was fine for those organizations to publish their writings in the first place, but not to continue publishing them, specifically on large Internet databases. The court agreed with the authors, saying that the databases themselves do not amount to simple revisions of the day's news, and so the authors in this case should be compensated -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: And a third decision, this one having to do with mushrooms. Tell us about that. BIERBAUER: Free speech for mushroom growers: It relates to these sort of quasi-governmental commodity groups, of which there are several dealing with, in this particular instance, the mushroom council, by which mushroom growers are assessed a dues contribution annually; the Mushroom Council does generic advertising for mushrooms. But United Foods objected to that, said it was an infringement of their commercial free speech. They want to advertise their own mushrooms independently, not get caught up in the generic, and the Supreme Court said they could do it, that it would violate the First Amendment provisions dealing with the commercial free speech. So a victory in this case for the First Amendment and for the mushroom growers.

MESERVE: Charles Bierbauer, at the court, thanks so much. Glad you could hear us over all the noise there.

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