Video: Court decisions analysis

msnbc.com
updated 6/27/2005 5:16:32 PM ET 2005-06-27T21:16:32

In addition to the Supreme Court's split decision on displaying the Ten Commandments on government property, the court also made two other noteworthy decisions Monday.

The Court rejected appeals from two journalists who have refused to testify before a grand jury about the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity and ruled companies that make software which enable free music and movie trading can be held liable for users' illegal activities

Jonathan Turley a professor of constitutional law at George Washington University, joined MSNBC's Amy Robach to discuss these two rulings.

To read a transcript of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the link above.

Amy Robach: The Supreme Court saying that (Time Magazine's Matthew Cooper and New York Times' Judith Miller) are not protected under the First Amendment (after refusing to give up their source for the information that led to the outing of a CIA operative) has huge implications for the field of journalism.  But we heard a similar ruling by the Supreme Court back in the 1970s.  Correct?

Jonathan Turley:  That's right, the Court has not been that protective over the journalistic privilege.  They're always been very skeptical.  Indeed in the last couple of decades, privilege generally turned into a client privilege, journalistic privilege, and psychiatry privilege has no faired well in courts. 

That puts pressure upon Congress to pass a bill that would extend by statute this type of privilege.  What you have here in this case is journalists doing their job and going to jail for it.

Amy Robach: I want to also ask you a little bit about this file sharing rule that came down by the Supreme Court ... saying that file services may be sued if they encourage customers to swap songs and movies illegally.  What does 'encourage' mean?  Is there a clear line to what these services have to do to make sure this doesn't happen?

Jonathan Turley: Well this of course is a reversal of lower court decisions that based their decisions on a case involving Sony in whether Sony could be sued for people illegally taping privately owned programs.

What the court said today is that 'Look, this is different.'  That, in fact, this should go to the jury.  The jury can't decide that these defendants do have the requisite intent to facilitate that type of stealing.  It's a good day for the propriety owners here but it's going to be something that is felt throughout the industry.  

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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