Legal Issues to Watch in 2013

poe7 image2012 was a big year.  We witnessed everything from the collapse of a massive law firm to the largest patent verdict in United States history.  This begs the question:  What do we have to look forward to in the year 2013?

Here are my personal top five topics in law and public policy that I am looking forward to in 2013, and feel free to leave yours in the comments below:

(1) The Affirmative Action Opinion

On October 10, 2012, oral arguments were heard for Fisher v. University of Texas at Arlington.  The opinion is expected to be delivered later this year.  This opinion will likely be a landmark decision for affirmative action, and it will either seek to uphold or overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger.  It will be interesting to see what amount, if any, affirmative action remains in college admissions.  Will the Court do away with affirmative action completely?  Will the allow affirmative action to continue as it has been? Or will there be some sort of hybrid, with a much more restrictive version of affirmative action in place?

(2) Gun Control on Center Stage

It seemed that gun control was a largely ignored topic in the 2012 campaign for presidency.  It will not be ignored this year.  With the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT, and the terrible shooting that took place in Aurora, CO, gun control is back on the main stage.  In late December, in response to the Newtown tragedy, the CEO of the National Rifle Association suggested that armed guards and better security measures are needed instead of more gun reform.  Regardless of whether or not the NRA is correct in its assessment, the Second Amendment will be at the forefront of discussion in Congress.

(3) Apple Continues To Sue EVERYBODY

Apple came through in 2012 with the largest patent verdict in U.S. history.  That is not to say that it will remain the largest, however.  The Apple v. Samsung case is still on appeal and the verdict amount is likely to be lowered.  It will be interesting to see how the recent invalidation of Apple patents will affect the appeal and the lawsuit as a whole.  In addition, Apple has a pending lawsuit that is predicted to reach court in 2014.  I would like to see whether or not any reforms will be made to patent laws other than those made by the seemingly useless Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.  I would also like to see whether the final opinion in the Apple v. Samsung case will change Apple’s litigation strategy.  Will they (and other tech companies) find that it is more useful to go to court or find that it is better to focus the costs of litigation on the competitive market?

(4) The Continuing Battle for Gay Marriage

In March, the Supreme Court will hear two enormously important cases on its docket regarding gay marriage.  United States v. Windsoris a case that questions, among other things, whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional.  The Court must also decide whether or not they even have jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place.  If the Court finds that they have jurisdiction, they must decide whether or not the definition of “marriage” in DOMA as between on man and one woman, and the definition of “spouse” as the opposite sex is constitutional.  In Hollingsworth v. Perrythe Court must decide whether or not California’s Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment by defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  While Windsor may not ever get to a decision involving gay marriage, Perry likely will, and I look forward to seeing what the Court decides.

(5) What will the JOBS Act actually look like?

President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law on April 5, 2012.  The problem, however, was that the JOBS Act did not immediately go into effect; the Act gave SEC a deadline in January 2013 to issue the regulations.  This led to speculation as to whether or not the JOBS Act would actually help jumpstart our business startups, or if it would slowly lead to less and less regulation and trouble for investors.  It will be interesting to see what the actual issued regulations will look like and how that will affect business in 2013.  Will this lead to an explosion of crowdfunding IPO’s as some have predicted?  Or will the deregulation lead to the same problems that were behind the lawsuit in the Global Settlement?

As you can see, we are in for another big year and these five are just the tip of the iceberg.  These are the five things that I am watching to unfold in law and public policy in the new year of 2013.  How about you?

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