Jul
01
2014
8

Ginsburg and Breyer: still not retiring.

I’ve been thinking about this myself.

The most important news from the Supreme Court this month?

Sure, we’ve had landmark rulings in Hobby Lobby, Canning and several other cases. But the non-retirements of the court’s two senior liberal associate justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, might overshadow any of those decisions in the longer run.

(more…)

Jul
01
2014
8

Why Barack Obama won’t just unilaterally fund access to abortifacients.

In the course of a not-entirely-unfair piece by Time magazine that makes it clear that the Obama administration has decided to play partisan politics with the Hobby Lobby decision*, the magazine article noted something interesting.  At issue is the centerpiece of the ruling – that companies are not actually required to violate their owners’ religious principles by paying for abortifacients – and the funny thing here is that the government never really had to seek a ruling in the first place:

Legal observers say it would not be difficult for the Obama Administration to resolve the situation unilaterally. The Department of Health and Human Services has already taken unilateral executive action to ensure that women employed by religious nonprofits get contraception coverage in cases where the employer declines to pay. “There was nothing in the statute that specifically allowed them to create the exemption for non-profit organizations so I don’t see why they couldn’t extend that to for-profit corporations,” said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and an expert on the Affordable Care Act’s regulations. “I don’t know why they couldn’t do it themselves.”

Two answers to that: first, then the Democrats couldn’t fundraise on the issue. Second, if the administration decided to fund procedures that an extremely large swath of the population considers to be abortifacients then they’d be in for several more exquisitely painful months in the public disapproval barrel.  Better by far to send it to Congress, let it die there, then blame it all on the Republicans.  And, of course, fundraise on the issue. (more…)

Jun
30
2014
6

First thoughts, Harris v. Quinn, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby.

Basically:

  • ‘Constitutional law scholar,’ my white Irish middle-aged tuchis.
  • That being said, both decisions are relatively narrow. The Right was looking for grand slams; we got RBIs.
  • But remember: the people who won wanted RBIs. Harris wanted to stop getting dinged for useless union dues.  Hobby Lobby didn’t want to go out of business because the alternative was paying for drugs that they considered to be abortifacients.  They both got their wish.

And that’s it for right now.  Gotta go clean the living room.

Jun
26
2014
3

*Thirteen* 9-0 Supreme Court decisions against Obama in two years.

That’s starting to look… unusual.

Did you know the Obama administration’s position has been defeated in at least 13 –thirteen — cases before the Supreme Court since January 2012 that were unanimous decisions? It continued its abysmal record before the Supreme Court today with the announcement of two unanimous opinions against arguments the administration had supported. First, the Court rejected the administration’s power grab on recess appointments by making clear it could not decide when the Senate was in recess. Then it unanimously tossed out a law establishing abortion-clinic “buffer zones” against pro-life protests that the Obama administration argued on behalf of before the Court (though the case was led by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley).

And by ‘unusual’ I mean ‘Constitutional law scholar, my eye.’

Jun
26
2014
1

SCotUS: Free speech win in McCullen v. Coakley.

The short version: at question in McCullen v. Coakley was whether a Massachusetts law keeping abortion protestors farther away than 35 feet from an abortion center was a violation of those protesters’ free speech, given that said law exempted abortion clinic personnel.  The court agreed, 9-0, that (as SCOTUSblog put it, via Legal Insurrection) “The Court makes clear that states can pass laws that specifically ensure access to clinics. It holds that states cannot more broadly prohibit speech on public streets and sidewalks. ”  As the Boston Globe noted, “The high court’s justices had indicated when they heard the case in January that the state needed to find other ways to address safety concerns and prevent the opponents from impeding access to clinics.” That’s Supreme-Court speak for Fix it or we will; and you will hate how we fix it, because we find that that’s a great way to keep us from getting the dumber cases for review. (more…)

Jun
19
2014
4

Supreme Court cases today!

We may get a big one; then again, we may not.  Either way, Gabriel Malor over at the Federalist listed the remaining big-ticket cases on the docket; since then (as per Gabriel’s update) the Court has decided that SBA List does in fact have standing to challenge Ohio’s absolutely awful anti-free speech law. So there’s that.

I am actually assuming that we’ll get maybe only one large case today if we get any at all. So watch: they’ll clear the docket and take the summer off, or something. Predicting what the Supreme Court will do is a mug’s game (although it does look like the Court will mightily spank the administration over recess appointments). We’ll see at ten AM…

May
27
2014
2

Supreme Court Decisions today!

10 AM for whatever cases get announced today.  The two that most people reading this will be most waiting for are probably going to be Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and NLRB v. Noel Canning, but there are a bunch of important cases in this term, which is frankly part of the problem right there. It is long since time that we started making our legislators write clearer laws; it might encourage our judiciary to stop fiddling with them.

Might.

As to the cases themselves… predicting how the Supreme Court will rule on any one case is a mug’s game, but a lot of people are going to be shocked if the Supremes don’t spank the NLRB – and, by association, the Obama administration – over recess appointments. Guess we’ll see today! …Or not.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

May
05
2014
7

Supreme Court decides that towns can have opening prayers.

Sounds like Anthony Kennedy had a nice breakfast that day.

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York may begin its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said “ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town’s practices could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.”

The case was Greece v. Galloway, for those interested: Not much further to say on this subject, except for one, probably rude, observation: the NYT has a picture of one of the plaintiffs, and she looks precisely like how I would expect a person willing to take her dislike of Christian opening prayers all the way to the Supreme Court would look like.  …And I’ll just stop there, before I get mean.  Or more mean.

Apr
14
2014
2

@SCOTUSblog no longer permanently credentialed for Supreme Court.

This is… not optimal.

(more…)

Mar
23
2014
6

Remember: oral arguments Tuesday on the Hobby Lobby case.

I came perilously close to writing this post in a white-hot fury (for reasons only indirectly related to the case), but wrath is a counter-productive emotion in this particular situation.  Suffice it to say that the people that run Hobby Lobby are adamant that they not be required to pay for drugs that they consider to be abortifacients; and while I’m personally sorry if this bothers progressives I am equally adamant that progressives get it through their collective skulls that they are not the sole arbiters of morality in this country. They are not, in fact, even the primary arbiters; and for what I consider to be very good reasons.

Rant over.  Enjoy your Sunday morning.

Nov
26
2013
3

Hobby Lobby #Obamacare conscience exemption case to be heard by Supreme Court.

Not unexpected, but not before time, either.

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review the lawsuit filed by Hobby Lobby against the federal government over the Obamacare mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans.

Hobby Lobby, which is owned by an Oklahoma City family with strong Christian beliefs, says a 1993 law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protects the company from the mandate. The company is particularly opposed to paying for coverage that includes the morning after pill.

(more…)

Jun
24
2013
10

Does the Supreme Court think that it has standing to review the Big Four?

Chris Geidner (H/T: AoSHQ) asks that question.

Although the country is waiting on the Supreme Court’s decisions in four major cases — involving California’s Proposition 8, the Defense of Marriage Act, affirmative action policies, and the Voting Rights Act — the court’s decision in all four cases could be not to decide.

How?

Standing.

My answer is still: I think that the court will decide that it has standing.  Of course, this is mostly based on the assumption that, if the Supreme Court was going to toss any or all of this out anyway, why didn’t it just do so at the beginning of the month and save us the anticipation? (more…)

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