A couple of quick thoughts on some Supreme Court crap. The big news is that the Court has held in Hudson v. Michigan that violation of the "knock and announce" rule does not require the suppression of evidence seized thereby. The knock and announce rule, such as it is, states that even if police have a warrant to enter a home, they have to knock and announce their presence before they enter. Apparently they still have to do that under the Constitution, but there are no evidentiary consequences if they don't. Since the exclusionary rule (the idea that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth or Fifth Amendments cannot be used against the person whose rights were violated) is the only thing that gives any teeth to these kinds of standards, this effectively destroys the knock and announce rule. A lot of people who have more time to think about these things than I do are expounding on what this decision means in the broader sense - whether the exclusionary rule in general is in trouble, whether this signals a long-dreaded lurch to the right by the Court in the wake of two Bush II appointments, what this really means for our civil liberties and property rights, etc. - but for now I'd just like to point out that police will still probably knock before they exercise warrants. They'll just knock once, really hard, with a foot instead of a hand.
In a development that is far less sexy but more directly related to my own work, the Supreme Court has taken up yet another patent case: KSR International v. Teleflex. The Court seems to be doing a lot of patent crap recently, which is a little surprising given the fact that I can probably count the number of Supreme Court patent cases I read in law school on one hand. I think more Supreme Court involvement in patent law is a good thing, despite the fact that Federal Circuit judges tend to ignore Supreme Court decisions that they don't agree with. KSR itself deals with patent obviousness, which is something that could actually use a little work. My favorite patent case of all time is an obviousness case: In re Dembizcak, 175 F.3d 994 (Fed. Cir. 1999). I wouldn't be too upset if this case were gutted by the Supreme Court. I've come to the conclusion that I like the case not because of any affinity for the holding, but because it deals with those Halloween garbage bags that look like giant jack-o-lanterns.