SCOTUSBlog: Argument analysis: Justices divided over disclosure of overseas emails by Amy Howe:
When the Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning in United States v. Microsoft, it found itself in what has become familiar terrain — trying to apply a decades-old law to modern technology. Today the justices were interpreting what Justice Anthony Kennedy characterized as a “difficult statute”: the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 law that requires an email provider to turn over the contents of emails if the government obtains a warrant. Computer giant Microsoft told the justices today that the SCA only applies within the United States, so the company cannot be compelled to turn over emails stored outside the country. The federal government countered that, although laws don’t normally apply outside the United States, the SCA focuses on “classically domestic conduct”: Here, it stressed, Microsoft is simply being asked to turn over electronic records that it controls, even if those records happen to be stored elsewhere. After struggling with the issues (and the technology) in the case for approximately an hour of oral argument, it wasn’t at all clear how the justices will rule – if they even have the opportunity to do so before Congress enacts legislation that would resolve the case.