Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Mon 3/4 - SCOTUS Rules on Trump Colorado Ballot Eligibility, Obamacare's HIV and Cancer Screenings and IRS Expands Direct File

Legal News for Mon 3/4 - SCOTUS Rules on Trump Colorado Ballot Eligibility, Obamacare's HIV and Cancer Screenings and IRS Expands Direct File

SCOTUS ruling on Trump's ballot eligibility, Obamacare's HIV & cancer screenings mandate, and IRS's expanded e-file tool.
Trump running from a swarm of bees, just because.

This Day in Legal History: The Copyright Act of 1909 is Enacted

On this day in legal history, March 4, 1909, marks a pivotal moment for copyright law in the United States with the enactment of the Copyright Act of 1909. This legislation fundamentally transformed the landscape of copyright protection by making the infringement of a copyright a federal crime for the first time. Prior to this act, copyright laws were more fragmented and less uniformly enforced, leading to widespread disputes and uncertainties over copyright ownership and rights.

The journey toward robust copyright protection in the U.S. began with the Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which empowered Congress "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Following this mandate, the first federal copyright law was enacted in 1790, primarily focusing on books, maps, and charts. However, as technology and the arts evolved, so too did the need for more comprehensive copyright legislation.

The Copyright Act of 1909 expanded the scope of copyright to include not only written works but also music and other creative works, offering protection for published and unpublished works. It introduced the concept of "mechanical rights," a significant development given the era's technological advancements in recording and reproducing music. This act also established a mandatory deposit system, requiring copies of copyrighted works to be sent to the Library of Congress, further centralizing and formalizing copyright protection.

Moreover, the 1909 act laid the groundwork for future copyright laws, including the significant overhaul seen in the Copyright Act of 1976, which remains the basis for copyright law in the United States today. The 1976 act extended copyright terms, made copyright protection automatic upon creation of a work, and recognized the right of authors to control and profit from various uses of their works.

The Copyright Act of 1909 was a crucial step in recognizing the value of intellectual property and ensuring that creators could exercise and enforce their rights across the nation. It underscored the importance of copyright as a driver for innovation, creativity, and cultural development. On this day, we acknowledge not just the enactment of a law but the beginning of a new era in the protection of creative expression in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to deliver a ruling today, which is notably a day before Colorado's presidential primary election. This ruling could potentially affect the ballot eligibility of former U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican presidential candidate who was previously removed from the Colorado ballot by a lower court due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority including three justices appointed by Trump, has been asked to decide on this matter urgently by the Republican Party of Colorado.

The case centers on Trump's disqualification under the 14th Amendment's Section 3, which prohibits individuals who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S., or given aid to its enemies, from holding public office. The context of Trump's disqualification stems from his actions and speech on January 6, encouraging his supporters to "fight like hell" against the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory, which led to a violent siege of the Capitol.

During the Supreme Court's deliberations on Trump's appeal, justices across the ideological spectrum expressed concerns about the implications of state-level decisions disqualifying presidential candidates, indicating a complex legal debate on the enforcement of the 14th Amendment's disqualification clause and the necessity of congressional action to enable such enforcement.

Additionally, the Supreme Court is also considering a separate but related case regarding Trump's claim of immunity from prosecution for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. Legal experts anticipate the Court is likely to reject Trump's immunity claim, but the timing of the Court's proceedings may delay a criminal trial regarding election subversion charges, potentially impacting the upcoming presidential election.

This situation underscores the legal and constitutional challenges surrounding Trump's candidacy and the broader implications for the 2024 presidential election, highlighting the judiciary's role in resolving disputes that have significant political ramifications.

US Supreme Court to issue ruling; Trump ballot case looms | Reuters

The Biden administration is set to defend the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandate for health insurers to cover preventive care services, including HIV-preventing medication and cancer screenings, at no additional cost to patients before a U.S. appeals court. This mandate, integral to the ACA enacted in 2010 and popularly known as Obamacare, is being challenged in court by a group of businesses led by Texas-based Braidwood Management. These plaintiffs object to covering HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) on the grounds that it contravenes their religious beliefs by promoting homosexuality and drug use.

The controversy has led to a lawsuit heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, involving arguments over the requirement for insurers to provide coverage for PrEP drugs, which are crucial in preventing HIV infection. In March 2023, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth issued a ruling that not only supported the plaintiffs' stance on PrEP but also broadly questioned the constitutionality of the ACA's preventive care mandate. O'Connor criticized the law for granting excessive authority to a federal task force responsible for selecting covered services, as its members are not presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate.

While O'Connor's decision is temporarily on hold pending appeal, it permits Braidwood to opt out of covering PrEP, hinting at broader implications for the ACA's preventive service coverage. Should O'Connor's ruling be upheld, it could lead to insurers imposing co-pays and deductibles for a range of preventive services, although it does not affect recommendations made before the ACA's implementation, such as breast cancer screening.

The appeals court panel includes judges appointed by both Republican former President Donald Trump and Democrat President Joe Biden, adding a layer of political intrigue to the proceedings. This case is the latest in a series of legal challenges to Obamacare, including a notable 2018 attempt by O'Connor to strike down the entire ACA, a ruling that was ultimately reversed by higher courts. This ongoing legal battle underscores the contentious nature of healthcare reform in the United States and the ACA's enduring legacy as a subject of legal and political debate.

US court to weigh Obamacare mandate to cover HIV drug, cancer screenings

The IRS is set to broaden the accessibility of its pilot free e-filing tool, Direct File, to all eligible individuals in 12 states starting March 12, following the completion of platform testing. Beginning March 4, the tool will become available for new users to initiate their tax returns 24/7, as indicated by a notification on the Direct File website. This development represents a significant expansion of the service, which previously offered limited access to new users. However, the program will continue to operate with certain limitations, including a daily cap on new users, potentially closing access if the cap is exceeded, though those who have already begun their returns will retain access even on closed days.

IRS Free E-File Tool to Open Fully in 12 States on March 12

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