I didn't see it coming, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) just joined the ESPN v. OSU case a couple days ago.
For those unfamiliar with the case, ESPN is trying to use a FOIA-type law to get potentially juicy emails from OSU. ESPN thinks those emails will contain information about NCAA violations. The two are duking it out in the Ohio Supreme Court.
Welcome the feds to the fight. See the documents announcing the DOJ's entrance here. My first reaction was shock. Now, however, I have a clue about what's going on.
OSU has been arguing that FERPA, a federal student privacy law, means that it can't share the emails with ESPN. ESPN says that FERPA doesn't cover these emails, and even if it did, OSU is not required to follow it because following FERPA is optional for state schools (all the statute does is condition federal aid on your school's compliance with the law).
Here's my guess at what happened next: OSU calls the federal agency responsible for enforcing the laws and says "hey DOJ, ESPN is saying your statute isn't worth wiping oneself with." The DOJ then comes out swinging, ready to defend the federal law.
While the DOJ will presumably be filing a "friend of the court" brief that he judges don't have to factor into their decision, I guarantee they will read it closely. Another bad thing: the DOJ's got a ringer. She clerked on the Supreme Court, she's ultra-smart, and basically she does this for a living. She regularly defends federal laws from these types of challenges:
This is really starting to get interesting now.