States May Limit Third Trimester Cell Phone Contract Terminations

This article was originally published on Humorality, on June 28, 2010.

Court Refuses to Overturn Controversial AT&T v. Wade Case

The United States Supreme Court today issued a ruling in a contentious Kansas-state case that has pro-choice advocates up in arms against their pro-battery-life counterparts. In a 5-4 decision, the court affirmed that states may impose restrictions on cell phone users who wish to abort their two-year contracts during the final eight months. States could already impose such limitations during the first two trimesters, although only seven states had the backbone to do so.

Chief Justice John Roberts read the majority opinion in State of Kansas v. Planned Phonehood of the Midwest, which was enjoined by the court’s other conservative-leaning members. “Although we fully understand the rhetoric of ‘a caller’s right to choose,’ the state also has a compelling interest in protecting the rights of cell phone service contracts, certainly among our nation’s most vulnerable business documents.” Justice Stephen Breyer, a Bill Clinton appointee who frequently votes with the liberal wing of the high court, spontaneously combusted as the opinion was read from the dais.

Tim Dobson, founder of Focus on the Cell Phone and host of a popular radio program, praised the ruling. “America cannot be known as a country that allows its un-renewed contracts to be murdered in the name of convenience,” said the electronics psychologist on his daily program. “Today’s decision restores the founder’s vision of life, liberty, and the right to enforce one-sided contracts.”

The crux of the case was whether businesses like Verizon and T-Mobile could offer early contract terminations to its customers during the final trimester of service, those months when such contracts have the best chance of being birthed anew for another two years. In the days leading up to the ruling, protesters had frequently gathered outside of big-box stores such as Best Buy and Starbucks Club, carrying signs with statements of “Contract Killer” and “Cell No, We Won’t Go.”

A clerk at an AT&T Wireless shop in Hollywood, California, didn’t seem to even know what the Supreme Court was. But a manager at another AT&T store, this one actually in Kansas, felt sympathy for the protesters. “These are people who have had to face some of the biggest challenges in their lives, living for nearly two years with our spotty service. If they want to pay ridiculous early termination fees for what is a perfectly legal procedure, I say let them do it.”

Despite the controversy, Sam Brownback, the senior US senator from Kansas, sees the court’s move as the right decision. “All we are asking for is a little sanity on this understandably divisive topic. Remember, every early termination stops a beating smart phone.”

Tim Patrick

Tim Patrick is an author, software developer, and the host of Japan Everyday. He has published a dozen books and hundreds of articles covering technology, current events, and life in Japan. Find his latest books at

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