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Once again, the SCOTUS has stepped up to explain to us lesser minds what freedom truly is: marketing, marketing and only marketing.

Just as, years ago, the paternalistic SCOTUS patiently explained to the child-like masses that money was the logical, ethical and moral equivalent of speech, now they have revealed that keeping medical records private is a violation of that very same free speech.

Who knew that freedom of speech had so many nooks and crannies?

So from now on, my silence is a violation of your right to speak. WTF?

"Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 6-to-3 majority, said the law violates First Amendment rights by imposing a “burden on protected expression” on specific speakers (drug marketers) and specific speech (information about the doctors and what they prescribed). It is unconstitutional because it restricts the transfer of that information and what the marketers have to say."

The case was about the "right" of pharmacies or, more to the point, large pharmaceutical marketing corporations, to sell information about physician's prescribing habits to large pharmaceutical manufacturing corporations, so that the manufacturers could more effectively target physicians to influence their prescribing practices.

Apparently, Vermont had decided that the manufacturers didn't have the right to such information and the SCOTUS has decided that they do. But the SCOTUS chose to take this one step further. Instead of merely stating that the information could be sold because it had already been revealed on one level, to a third party, i.e.: the prescription-filling pharmacy. The court decided that keeping such information private, far from being a constitutionally-vaild protection of private health care information was, instead, a VIOLATION, of the FIRST AMENDMENT.

So, according to the supreme court, you now have a basic constitutional right to any and all information you may want to know about me because you may want to say something, later, based on that information. My keeping my secrets, or any company or individual to whom I give what used to be protected communication about me, NOT revealing such secrets, now violates the free speech on anyone else, anywhere, with a commercial interest in having and making money off that information. And not because they have a commercial right to know: Because NOT KNOWING violates their FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!

Does the "Supreme" Court understand that it has just created a precedent that dissolves, utterly and forever, the right to privacy for anyone, everywhere if someone else makes the claim that they want to make money off of that information? As long as you have told anyone, someone else now has the constitutionally-protected right to have the information as well.

Welcome to National Enquirer World! Want to keep something private? Think your personal secrets are yours to keep? Au contraire, mon frère. As long as I plan to make a buck off of them, your private secrets are no longer yours to keep, they are mine to sell. The SCOTUS tells me so.

From now on, if you tell someone anything, and they decide to sell that information, they are perfectly free to do so… no, make that they are legally compelled to do so on constitutional grounds to do so, if someone wants the information to make money from it.

I remember years ago, when my sister kept a diary, as teenaged girls are wont to do. So I, like any good brother does, read her diary and told all my friends, and their friends, and anyone who would listen, about its contents, much to my sister's chagrin and extreme embarrassment. Ahh, good times. But, boy, did I get into trouble! Had I only known! I should have SOLD the information. THEN I would have been on unshakable constitutional ground.

As long as I was making money off the sale of the information, everyone I told had a basic constitutional right -- of free speech, mind you -- to have that information and do whatever they wanted with it to make money from it, too.

I still can't get my mind around this: My silence is now a violation of SOMEONE ELSE'S freedom to speak. Presumably, my walking along the sidewalk is now the constitutional equivalent of tying someone else up and stuffing them in the trunk of my car.

Today's Supreme Court of the United States is now on a rampage to cobble brand new constitutional "rights" out of what used to be pretty clear cut and simple matters. Freedom of speech used to be about the right of people to speak without undue restriction by the government. Simple, right?

Now, rather than simply stating that commercial rights may, at times, trump personal privacy -- a case that might reasonably be made as a matter of civil or contract law: The SCOTUS might simply have ruled that doctors needed to be informed that the information might be collected and sold, and required an opt-out option, a nice, simple matter that would give all parties options -- they are trying to glue such "rights," permanently and irreducibly -- as fundamental rights -- guaranteed by the constitution itself. No longer is it sufficient to make a case in the service of their corporate masters, now the case has to be attached to a fundamental right, no matter how convoluted the logic.

This SCOTUS has utterly sold out to it's ideology that corporate interests and money supersede all other considerations, and the desire to lock-in future courts to prevent their ideologically-driven rulings from ever being rescinded is palpable in their continual attempts to tie ever-more distant and ephemeral "rights" to basic constitutional ones.

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Comment Preferences

  •  FYI, Sotomayor was the liberal justice that joined (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gravlax, JonBarleycorn

    the majority opinion.

    •  re: your hypo of the sister's diary: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      I think the more apposite hypo here is this: your sister entrusts you w/ her diary when she's gone.  Your mom institutes the following rule: you can tell the contents of the diary to anyone you want except that you can't tell Bill anything if he wants to use the information for any of the stories he writes.  You can tell Bill anything, though, for any other reason.  

      On a quick scan, the decision seems horrific, but unfortunately I've gotta spend the next 15 minutes changing toddlers rather than reading the decision more closely.

    •  Sotomayor also wrote the 2nd circuit (0+ / 0-)

      dissent in which a back office cop had sent racist correspondence and was punished for it (sent anonymously, but they figured out who it was).  The majority found he could be punished w/in the first amendment, Sotomayor thought otherwise (a summary is here; it's lame but it's.  So it looks like we may have a first amendment stalwart on the bench.

    •  So, how does that argument, that regardless of (0+ / 0-)

      what Obama's done for Wall St and this right-wing approach to the executive (despite minor social positives), his appointments to the SC matter?

      Cause this is an idiotic decision from an increasingly America-hating SC.

  •  Sorry, you're just a flesh a blood person (8+ / 0-)

    We hold these truths to be self evident; that all corporations are created more equal than people, that they are endowed by their legal fictions with certain unalienable rights, that among these are profits, exec perks and socialized losses. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted over men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the shareholders. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the shareholders to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their profits and executives' compensation. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank goodness that when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce the people under absolute despotism, it is corporations' right, it is their duty, to throw the people under the bus, and to provide new guards for the corporations' future security.

    Tell me it ain't like that.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 04:41:08 AM PDT

  •  Quick question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, BlackSheep1, RantNRaven

    Are your meds a "provision of health care" as defined by HIPAA?  and if so, aren't they protected health information?  So how does scoffus decide that it is future speech?  
    I am beginning to think Orwell was an optimist...

  •  So if Wikileaks was Inc. they are free (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    to gather Govt. secrets?  

    Just how far does this go?  At first I thought of it as something affecting the single payer health care system but (lacking a Law Degree) I'm wondering if it casts it's net much farther?

    Anybody know?

  •  The Speech Itself Possesses the 1st Amend Right nt (0+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jun 24, 2011 at 05:04:47 AM PDT

  •  So this affects the doctors, not patients (0+ / 0-)

    but would it follow that confidentiality can then be breached?  After all, someone could probably make money from it....  
    JK

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