Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Mon 10/30 - SCOTUS Considering who can be Blocked, Biden Exec. Order on AI, Trump Ballot Disqual. in CO, CA Assault Rifle ban Upheld and UAW Wins big

Mon 10/30 - SCOTUS Considering who can be Blocked, Biden Exec. Order on AI, Trump Ballot Disqual. in CO, CA Assault Rifle ban Upheld and UAW Wins big

SCOTUS considering who public officials can block, Biden executive order on AI, Trump’s ballot disqualification trial in CO, appeals court upholds CA assault rifle ban, UAW wins big.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt televised address, pencil sketch.

This day in legal history, October 30, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, which allowed the United States to lend or lease war provisions to those countries deemed in the vital interest of the US–in other words, the Allied Powers. This paved the way for the US entrance into World War II. 

Roosevelt sanctioned $1 billion in aid to the Allies through the Lend-Lease Act. This move by the United States, though not an official declaration of war, showcased its strategic commitment to the Allied cause. The legislation, originally passed in March of 1941, set the groundwork for an extensive system of support, bridging the gap until the U.S. formally entered World War II in December of the same year. The essence of the Lend-Lease Act was to bolster Allied nations by lending or leasing arms and other vital supplies, thus ensuring they had the resources to combat Axis Powers. A subsequent testament to its significance was the formalization of the Lend-Lease Agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. in 1942, further strengthening the partnership between the two nations. This act, both in its inception and execution, played a crucial role in shaping the direction of World War II, emphasizing America's resolve to support democracy and freedom, even before its direct engagement in the conflict.

Prior to the Lend-Lease Act, America grappled with the weight of global responsibility versus its policy of non-interventionism. The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s were emblematic of the U.S.'s desire to remain distant from overseas conflicts. However, as the devastation of World War II spread across Europe and Asia, the urgency to support democracies under siege grew palpable. The British, facing dire circumstances, especially after the fall of France in 1940, appealed to the U.S. for assistance. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, President Roosevelt championed the Lend-Lease Act as a means to provide support without direct military involvement. This marked a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy, leaning towards interventionism.

In the aftermath of the Lend-Lease Act, the U.S. became the "Arsenal of Democracy," supplying the Allies with vast amounts of weapons, vehicles, and other essential supplies. The act not only bolstered the war effort but also revitalized the American economy, pulling it further out of the Great Depression. As the war progressed, the bonds forged through the Lend-Lease agreements paved the way for post-war collaborations such as the United Nations and the Marshall Plan. The act, therefore, had profound implications, marking the U.S.'s transition from an isolated nation to a global superpower, committed to maintaining international peace and prosperity.

The US Supreme Court is set to review how free speech protections apply to social media accounts of public officials. In upcoming cases, they will determine if public officials violate the First Amendment by blocking individuals on accounts showcasing both personal and professional content. Advocates argue that officials can't restrict criticism once they establish a public forum, and social media should be treated no differently. Two highlighted cases involve disputes over Facebook and a platform formerly known as Twitter. One case found that California school board members violated free speech rights by blocking public interactions, while another case determined a Michigan official did not. The increasing use of social media by government officials for communication emphasizes its importance as a modern public square. Some experts believe that the shift to online platforms poses challenges to traditional free speech doctrines. The Supreme Court justices, not being tech experts, may grapple with this evolution. However, the overarching consensus is that if social media serves as a public forum for officials, First Amendment protections should apply. The distinction between an official's public and private online persona remains a complex issue.

Justices Consider Who Public Officials Can Block on Social Media

President Joe Biden has released an executive order directing a comprehensive approach to artificial intelligence (AI) regulation. The order sets new AI security and privacy standards, affecting major tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. These companies will need to undergo safety tests for AI models, submitting results to the government prior to public release. The regulation targets potential national, economic, health, and safety risks of technology and will introduce watermarking standards for AI-generated content, such as "deepfakes". The Commerce Department is tasked with developing measures against misinformation from such content. The order expands upon prior voluntary commitments from companies for secure AI deployment. Biden's initiative also emphasizes protection against algorithmic bias, particularly in housing and government benefits. Additionally, the order encourages relaxed visa rules for foreign AI professionals. While the administration sees this as a significant step in AI regulation, Congress might introduce even stricter controls. President Biden also seeks privacy legislation and increased funding for AI research.

Biden Targets Artificial Intelligence in Broad Regulation Order

White House unveils wide-ranging action to mitigate AI risks | Reuters

A trial is set to commence in Colorado to decide if former U.S. President Donald Trump should be disqualified from Colorado's 2024 election ballot due to his alleged role in the U.S. Capitol attack. This trial, lasting a week in Denver, may set a precedent regarding a seldom-invoked Civil War-era provision in the U.S. Constitution, which prevents individuals involved in "insurrection or rebellion" from holding federal positions. While Trump also faces related lawsuits in Michigan and Minnesota, the Colorado lawsuit is the first to reach trial. Trump has consistently refuted any wrongdoing related to the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. His campaign labels these lawsuits as "absurd." Despite the legal battles, opinion polls show Trump leading the Republican presidential nomination. Critics aim to thwart Trump's victory chances by disqualifying him in crucial states, although many view this strategy skeptically. The final decision might be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority. The lawsuit invokes Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, formulated post-Civil War, aiming to prevent former Confederate supporters from federal office positions. It reads:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Trump ballot disqualification trial to begin in Colorado | Reuters

Fourteenth Amendment Section 3 | Constitution Annotated | | Library of Congress

A U.S. appeals court has decided that California's three-decade-long ban on assault weapons will continue while the state attorney general contests a lower court's ruling that declared the ban unconstitutional. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez in San Diego. The panel will expedite the hearing of state Attorney General Rob Bonta's appeal supporting the gun law. Judge Benitez previously determined that the assault weapons ban violated the Second Amendment rights of citizens. However, the 9th Circuit panel, by a 2-1 majority, retained the judge's order, indicating that the attorney general's appeal had strong grounds. Bonta, criticizing Benitez's ruling, emphasized that assault weapons shouldn't be on streets, referencing a recent mass shooting in Maine. California pioneered the assault weapons ban in 1989 following a school shooting tragedy. The state's law defines assault weapons by certain tactical features that increase their potential threat. The 9th U.S. Circuit had previously overturned Benitez's 2021 decision and asked for further review.

US appeals court keeps California assault weapons ban in force | Reuters

The United Auto Workers' (UAW) tentative agreement with two major Detroit automakers signifies another triumph for labor unions pushing for improved corporate deals. This proactive approach from unions spans various sectors, including industrial, auto, entertainment, and healthcare. The UAW negotiations, which have culminated in preliminary agreements with Ford and Stellantis, could influence other industries to adapt similar terms. U.S. federal data indicates union worker compensation now matches non-union wage hikes post-COVID-19, with unemployment at a mere 3.8%. The Ford and Stellantis deals propose pay rises exceeding 33%, potentially prompting non-union companies to advocate for unionization. Public support has bolstered union activities in sectors like manufacturing and healthcare, while union representation in the workforce has decreased since the 1980s. The UAW agreements join a series of deals this year, with workers increasingly aware of company profits. President Joe Biden views unions as vital to his economic strategies, promoting American manufacturing. Companies might either enhance wages to deter unionization or increase anti-union measures.

UAW's record deal could boost others' wages as labor notches another victory | Reuters

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