Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case is the corporate equivalent of the road to Damascus, says Elizabeth Sepper, JD, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Many more corporations will find religion to opt out of regulation that affects their bottom line,” Sepper says. “Before Hobby Lobby, businesses lost claims to fire pregnant women, refuse to promote non-Christians, discriminate against gays, and pay below the minimum wage. “After Hobby Lobby, they seem likely to succeed.”
The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in Bowman v. Monsanto holds that farmers who lawfully obtain Monsanto’s patented, genetically modified soybeans do not have a right to plant those soybeans and grow a new crop of soybeans without Monsanto’s permission. “The Court closed a potential loophole in Monsanto’s long-standing business model, prevents Monsanto’s customers from setting up ‘farm-factories’ for producing soybeans that could be sold in competition with Monsanto’s soybeans, and it enables Monsanto to continue to earn a reasonable profit on its patented technology,” says Kevin Collins, JD, patent law expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis
HBO’s Big Love and TLC’s reality-TV offering Sister Wives have thrust polygamy into popular culture in the United States. Estimates are that somewhere between 50,000-100,000 families in this country are currently risking criminal prosecution by practicing plural marriage. Proponents and detractors of polygamy use same-sex marriage to support their arguments, but that’s just a distraction, says Adrienne Davis, JD, an expert on gender relations and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “While the gay analogy may make for splashy punditry and good television, it distracts us from the main legal issue — polygamy challenges the regulations inherent in the conventional two-person marriage,” Davis says. “Putting aside whether you think polygamy is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ it is important to look at whether U.S. law is up to regulating marital multiplicity.” She proposes some default rules that might accommodate polygamy, while ensuring against some of its historic and ongoing abuses.
The rise of corporate bankruptcies over the last few years has prompted legislators and academics alike to push for bankruptcy law reform. Fearing the death of legal liability, these reformers are calling for increased creditor protectionism through the weakening of limited liability and the reversal of “judgment proof” transactions such as the creation of special purpose entities (SPE) commonly used for the sequestering of assets. “Letting intellectual property (IP) assets slip into a bankruptcy estate is a dangerous idea,” says Troy Paredes, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
WarrenThe United States’ recent economic slowdown has been punctuated by some of the largest bankruptcies in history, including Enron and WorldCom. Leading academics and prominent practitioners will examine the fallout of these bankruptcies at the F. Hodge O’Neal Corporate and Securities Law Symposium April 2 at the Washington University School of Law.