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Legal News for Mon 4/1 - FSU and Clemson Want out of ACC, Trump Document Mishandling, Tesla EEOC Racial Lawsuit and ELVIS Act Bans AI Voice Replication

Legal News for Mon 4/1 - FSU and Clemson Want out of ACC, Trump Document Mishandling, Tesla EEOC Racial Lawsuit and ELVIS Act Bans AI Voice Replication

FSU and Clemson's legal battle against the ACC over exit fees and rights, Trump's document mishandling case, Tesla's EEOC racial harassment lawsuit, and the ELVIS Act's AI voice replication concern.
A robot Elvis crooning, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Conscription

On April 1, 1863, the United States found itself in a pivotal moment of the Civil War, instituting the first wartime conscription law in its history. This legislation marked a significant departure from previous volunteer-based military enlistment, reflecting the dire need for manpower in the ongoing conflict. Intriguingly, the law contained a clause that permitted individuals to pay a $300 fee to avoid military service, a provision that starkly highlighted socioeconomic disparities and led to widespread controversy. Dubbed the "rich man's exception," this clause ignited fervent opposition, particularly among the working-class population who could not afford such a sum.

The palpable tension and discontent culminated in the July 1863 New York City Draft Riots, a devastating uprising that stands as the deadliest civil insurrection in the United States up to that point. Over the course of several days, as many as 100 people lost their lives in violent confrontations, with extensive property damage across the city. The riots were eventually suppressed by Union troops, some of whom had been diverted from their post at the recent Battle of Gettysburg, highlighting the severity of the internal strife.

The 1863 Draft Riots serve as a stark reminder of the deep-seated issues of inequality and social injustice that can lead to turmoil within a nation, especially during times of great stress and uncertainty. These events also underscore the complexities and challenges of wartime governance, revealing the profound impacts of policy decisions on the fabric of society. The aftermath of the riots forced a reevaluation of conscription practices and left an indelible mark on the nation's history, illustrating the turbulent intersection of military necessity and civil rights.

Florida State University and Clemson University are challenging the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with antitrust and contract claims, initiating a legal battle with far-reaching implications for college sports. The controversy revolves around the ACC's exit fees and television broadcast rights, with the schools arguing that these terms are anticompetitively high and lock them into an underperforming conference. More than half a billion dollars are at stake, with the lawsuits questioning whether the ACC's penalties for leaving the conference—amounting to $572 million according to FSU—constitute an unlawful restraint on trade and are unconscionable.

The litigation has sparked a complex legal fight over the choice of venue, with the ACC seeking to keep the case in its home state of North Carolina, while FSU and Clemson filed their lawsuits in Florida and South Carolina, respectively. The schools argue that the ACC's long-term television deals, which extend through 2036, are financially disadvantageous compared to those secured by other conferences, leading to significant revenue losses.

Clemson's lawsuit further emphasizes the financial disparity, pointing out that ACC members earn roughly $30 million less annually than counterparts in the Big 10 and SEC. Despite these claims, the ACC insists that the contractual agreements, which were signed by the universities, are binding and exclusive, arguing against the notion that a contract is only valid "so long as it chooses."

Legal experts suggest that the arguments presented by FSU and Clemson, particularly regarding the unconscionable nature of the exit penalties, typically apply more to consumers or employees rather than entities like universities that actively participated in forming the agreements. The outcome of this legal battle could significantly influence the structure of college sports conferences, with a settlement to buy out of the conference seen as a likely resolution. However, the decision on where the case will be litigated could greatly affect the ruling, highlighting the strategic importance of home-field advantage in legal proceedings.

Florida State, Clemson Test Antitrust and Contract Attack on ACC

In a significant development in the criminal case against former U.S. President Donald Trump, accused of mishandling classified documents, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump, has shown openness to Trump's defense arguments. This has raised concerns for prosecutors regarding the challenges they may encounter as the case progresses. Judge Cannon has requested both Trump and the prosecutors to submit jury instructions for scenarios that could favor Trump’s claims, which legal experts argue have limited relevance to the charges at hand. Trump's defense contends that he retained the classified documents as personal property under a law that allows former presidents to keep certain records, a stance prosecutors dispute given the nature of the documents related to national security.

This case is one of four legal battles Trump faces amidst his campaign to return to the presidency, portraying these legal actions as politically motivated attempts to undermine his candidacy. The judge's receptiveness to Trump's arguments, particularly on the matter of how the classified documents are categorized, introduces a unique dynamic into the proceedings, potentially influencing the trial's outcome. Legal professionals have noted the rarity of a president declaring government-produced documents as personal, emphasizing the advantage this argument could afford Trump in a jury trial.

Despite this potential advantage, a trial date remains uncertain, with discussions ongoing about postponing the currently scheduled trial. Meanwhile, Judge Cannon has previously ruled in Trump's favor in preliminary matters, though she has also rejected attempts to dismiss the central charge against him, indicating some arguments merit further examination. This nuanced legal battle reflects the complexities of addressing classified information handling and the implications of presidential records management, setting a precedent for how such cases might be adjudicated in the future.

US judge receptive to Trump documents claims in warning sign for prosecutors | Reuters

Tesla Inc. is required to confront allegations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) asserting that the company allowed severe racial harassment against Black employees at its Fremont, California, manufacturing plant starting in May 2015. Federal Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that the EEOC's claims are sufficient to suggest the harassment was intense enough to create an abusive work environment. This decision is part of ongoing legal challenges Tesla faces regarding race bias, highlighted by a separate case where a Tesla employee was awarded $3.2 million in damages for discrimination.

The EEOC's lawsuit, filed last year, charges Tesla with maintaining a racially hostile environment, characterized by the frequent use of racial slurs and graffiti, contributing to a workplace permeated with discrimination. Judge Corley dismissed Tesla's motion to have the case dismissed or stayed pending the resolution of similar state court cases, indicating those proceedings wouldn't resolve the federal lawsuit's issues.

Corley also refuted Tesla's claim that the EEOC didn't properly engage in pre-suit conciliation efforts as mandated by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, noting the EEOC had indeed informed Tesla of the allegations and attempted conciliation for nearly a year. The case underscores the legal scrutiny Tesla faces over its workplace culture and practices, with Corley's ruling marking a significant step in the litigation process. Tesla's representation and the company's response to the ruling were not immediately available.

Tesla Loses Bid to End EEOC Racial Harassment, Retaliation Suit

Tennessee has introduced the first state legislation, known as the ELVIS Act, in response to concerns over the use of artificial intelligence to replicate musicians' voices, including a viral AI-generated song mimicking Drake and The Weeknd. Enacted on March 21 and effective from July 1, this law aims to protect commercial exploitation of recognizable voices, extending beyond celebrities to any identifiable individual. It's a response to the evolving capabilities of AI, which can now produce high-quality voice replications easily accessible to the masses, posing a significant challenge to the music industry and intellectual property rights.

The law expands on Tennessee's prior right of publicity law, influenced heavily by Elvis Presley's estate, to now include liability for those making tools intended for replicating an individual's voice without authorization. This broad scope of protection has raised concerns about its implications on free speech and the First Amendment, with some experts pointing out its potential to limit more expressive uses of voice replication, such as tribute bands or parody.

The legislation's implications extend beyond merely preventing unauthorized commercial use, touching on broader First Amendment concerns and potentially influencing how similar laws might be structured in other states. Despite aiming to prevent commercial exploitation, the law does not strictly limit the right to an advertising context, keeping a carve-out for fair use in news, public affairs, or sports broadcasts as protected by the First Amendment.

Furthermore, the ELVIS Act creates liability for distributing software or tools primarily used for producing an individual's voice likeness without permission, a move not previously seen in state legislation aimed at protecting the right of publicity. This aspect of the law reflects the complex intersection of technology, copyright law, and personal rights, indicating a shift towards regulating the distribution of software as a means to protect these rights.

While the law aims to safeguard individuals' rights against the commercial misuse of their voice and likeness in the age of AI, it also opens up discussions on the balance between protecting those rights and ensuring freedom of expression. The ELVIS Act represents a significant step in addressing the challenges posed by AI to the entertainment industry and personal privacy, setting a precedent for how states might navigate these issues in the future.

Elvis Inspires First State AI Protections for Musicians’ Voices

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
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