NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 11th of June, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. The Supreme Court handed down three decisions yesterday.
First (Parker Drilling), a loss for employees of oil-drilling platforms off the coast of California. Workers in that industry are paid only for time on duty, even though they can’t leave the platform for off-duty time, such as for sleeping. A class action on behalf of the workers cited California state law that requires they be paid for time spent standing-by.
But all nine justices rejected that argument. The outer continental shelf is governed by federal law that does not require pay for off-duty time, and federal law takes priority. The case now returns to lower court on other claims.
EICHER: Another unanimous decision (Quarles v United States ) says a burglary is a burglary regardless of when the burglar formed the intent to commit a crime. Now stay with me. The question is this: Is it a burglary at the exact moment he decides to stay in a building unlawfully? Or does it become a burglary at some later point while he’s still in the building?
The controversy was over the Armed Career Criminal Act which adds jail time for three-time felons who unlawfully possess a gun. Legal trouble often arises when state definitions of crime and federal definitions of the same crime don’t line up.
Bottom line here, the convicted criminal who appealed his case, trying to lessen his jail time, loses this one.
REICHARD: And the third decision (Return Mail, Inc) says the US Postal Service is not a “person” as understood under the America Invents Act. Here, the US Postal Service wanted to invalidate the patent on a machine it uses for sorting mail. By a vote of 6-3, the justices said “no” because the law allows a “person” to challenge patents, and this means a private party in this context.