Future Hot Topics in the Law


According to the Deseret Morning News, Chief Justice Roberts recently responded to a question at Brigham Young University about areas of law likely to be important in the future by suggesting “that technology-related cases could be the most important area of law considered by the Supreme Court over the next quarter of a century.”

Emerging technologies can create new questions about old laws. For example, imaging technology exists that allows law enforcement officers to see through walls. “Is that an unlimited search and seizure?” Roberts asked. “People tend to be focused on what are the hot issues right now,” he added. “Those are not the issues I think 25 years from now will be the ones people will look back on and say were significant.”

Justice Roberts’ speech is available online at byubroadcasting.org.

Justice Alito made a somewhat similar comment last year after judging a moot court that touched on how the Fourth Amendment applies to computer networks: What constitutes a “search and seizure” online is a critical law debate and is constantly reshaping the Fourth Amendment, he said. “Now we’re entering this new virtual world,” Alito said, “and we have to translate the precedents and principles we have dealing with physical grounds to the world of electronic communication.”

Source: The Volokh Conspiracy, Monday, October 29, 2007