Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Fri 6/7 - SCOTUS Estate Tax Ruling, Netflix Investors Reject AI Transparency, Judge Recused from Gaza Case and TX Library Un-banning Some LGBTQ+ Books

Legal News for Fri 6/7 - SCOTUS Estate Tax Ruling, Netflix Investors Reject AI Transparency, Judge Recused from Gaza Case and TX Library Un-banning Some LGBTQ+ Books

SCOTUS estate tax ruling impacting family businesses, Netflix investors rejecting an AI transparency proposal, a judge recused from a Gaza case, and a TX library reshelving controversial books.

This Day in Legal History: Gandhi’s First Act of Civil Disobedience

On June 7, 1893, Mohandas Gandhi committed his first act of civil disobedience in South Africa, an event that would shape his future activism and the global struggle for civil rights. Gandhi, holding a first-class ticket, was ordered to move to the third-class section of a train because he was Indian. Refusing to comply, he was forcibly removed from the train at Pietermaritzburg. This incident ignited Gandhi's resolve to combat racial discrimination and injustice.

In response to this humiliation, Gandhi began organizing the Indian community in South Africa, leading to the founding of the Natal Indian Congress in 1894. This organization aimed to unite Indians and fight against discriminatory laws. Gandhi's efforts in South Africa laid the groundwork for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance, known as Satyagraha.

After gaining experience and recognition in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. There, he became a pivotal leader in the struggle for independence from British colonial rule. Through nonviolent protests, boycotts, and civil disobedience, Gandhi mobilized millions of Indians and brought international attention to their cause.

Gandhi's first act of defiance on that South African train was more than just a personal stand; it was the beginning of a movement that would inspire civil rights leaders worldwide, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. This day marks a significant moment in legal history, highlighting the power of peaceful protest and the enduring fight for equality and justice.

The US Supreme Court's recent decision has significant implications for estate planning, particularly for family businesses. The ruling mandated that the value of Crown C Supply Co., a family-owned business, must include the life insurance payout received after co-owner Michael Connelly's death. This decision was a setback for Thomas Connelly, the estate executor, who argued against including the payout in the company's valuation.

The unanimous ruling, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, emphasizes that businesses using life insurance proceeds for shareholder buyouts must account for these proceeds in their valuations or explore alternative strategies. These alternatives include cross-purchase agreements, where individual shareholders, rather than the company, hold the life insurance policies, or placing the policies in a trust.

This ruling could particularly affect small business owners who might not afford extensive legal advice, potentially pushing their estates above the exemption threshold and incurring higher taxes. Estate planners now need to reassess buy-sell agreements and consider more tax-efficient arrangements. Despite the clarified tax risks, not all businesses will shift from the contested buy-sell agreements, as factors beyond tax implications often influence business decisions. The case, Connelly v. United States, highlights the need for thorough estate planning to navigate tax liabilities effectively.

High Court Estate Tax Ruling Forces Succession Planning Revamps

Netflix shareholders voted down a proposal to increase transparency on the company's use of artificial intelligence (AI) at its annual meeting. The proposal, presented by the AFL-CIO Equity Index Funds, requested a report detailing Netflix's AI policies and ethical guidelines. Concerns highlighted included potential hiring discrimination, mass layoffs, and facility closures, arguing that ethical AI guidelines could prevent labor issues and lawsuits. 

This follows last summer’s Hollywood strikes, partly driven by fears that AI could undermine writers and actors. Similar AI-related proposals have been presented to other tech companies like Meta and Microsoft but have not passed. In February, a proposal at Apple received notable support, with 37.5% of investors in favor.

Netflix, in its proxy statement, described AI as a tool to enhance creativity and efficiency, not to replace human work. The company also mentioned existing collective bargaining agreements with unions that address AI use. Netflix argued that the requested report could reveal sensitive information and harm its competitive position.

Netflix Investors Reject Bid on AI Discrimination, Layoff Risks

U.S. Circuit Judge Ryan Nelson of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recused himself from a case involving Palestinian rights activists who seek to block the Biden administration's military support of Israel. The recusal follows his participation in a trip to Israel with other judges after the October 7 Hamas attack. Although Nelson believed his impartiality wouldn't reasonably be questioned, he stepped down out of caution. The plaintiffs argued that the trip, organized by the World Jewish Congress, aimed to influence judicial perspectives on Israeli actions, central to the case. Judge Consuelo Callahan replaced Nelson for the hearing. The case, Defense for Children International-Palestine v. Biden, challenges U.S. support for Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

US judge recuses himself from Gaza case after trip to Israel | Reuters

A Texas public library must return eight controversial books, covering LGBTQ+, sex education, and racism topics, to circulation after a divided ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that removing books based on content objections violated the First Amendment rights of library patrons. The ruling largely upheld a 2023 preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman. In dissent, Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan criticized the decision, arguing that it improperly involved federal judges in library decisions. The case, initiated by Leila Green Little and others, challenges the Llano County Library System's removal of books like "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson and "Being Jazz" by Jazz Jennings. The ruling reflects a broader trend of legal challenges against library book bans, with similar cases arising in Iowa, Texas, and Arkansas. The American Library Association and PEN America report a significant increase in book challenges and bans, particularly those involving marginalized communities.

Texas Library Must Reshelve Controversial Books, 5th Cir. Says

Composer Paul Dukas, pencil sketch

This week’s closing theme is by Paul Dukas, who passed away on this day in 1935.

Paul Dukas was a notable French composer, critic, and teacher who left an indelible mark on the world of classical music. Born in Paris in 1865, Dukas was a contemporary of Debussy and shared the same innovative spirit that defined French music at the turn of the century. Although his output was relatively small, his meticulous approach ensured that each work he published was of the highest quality. Dukas is best remembered for his orchestral masterpiece, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (L'Apprenti sorcier), composed in 1897.

Inspired by Goethe's poem of the same name, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" vividly depicts the tale of a young apprentice who, in his master's absence, uses magic to animate a broom to do his chores, only to lose control of the spell. Dukas's composition brilliantly captures the whimsical and chaotic nature of the story through its lively orchestration and dynamic contrasts. The piece's enchanting melodies and dramatic crescendos have made it a favorite in concert halls and have cemented its place in popular culture, especially after being featured in Disney's "Fantasia" in 1940.

Dukas's ability to blend narrative with musical innovation showcases his exceptional talent and ensures that "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" remains a timeless piece, beloved by audiences of all ages. As we reflect on Dukas's contributions, we celebrate his genius and the magical world he brought to life through music.

Without further ado, Paul Dukas’ “L’Apprenti sorcier,”or “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” enjoy.

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at