Tag Archives | SCOTUS

Hobby Lobby Ruling: Employers Don’t Have to Cover Birth Control

HobbyLobbyStowOhioIt’s a kick in the teeth to the promoters of “ObamaCare,” but this narrow limitation of the Affordable Care Act is really just a minor hiccup compared to the large number of people now enrolled. NBC News reports on the US Supreme Court ruling in the so called Hobby Lobby case:

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a limited decision, ruled Monday that closely held, for-profit companies can claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives.

For-profit corporations — including Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania, owned by a family of Mennonite Christians, and Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts stores founded on Biblical principles — had challenged a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

It requires companies with more than 50 employees to cover preventive care services, which include such contraceptives as morning-after pills, diaphragms and IUDs.

The court’s ruling Monday was 5-4, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and the decision appeared to be extremely limited.

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U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

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Beyond The ‘McCutcheon’ Decision

The Roberts Court

The Roberts Court

Everyone’s taking about the Supreme Court’s perfectly predictable “Citizens United 2” McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision.  It’s what we are NOT talking about that worries me.

Ironically, the far right that many on the left see as the only beneficiary of a decision that treats money and free speech as if they are the same thing, is also not happy with it. They wanted, and may still get, the end of all campaign finance reform.

This decision keeps individual giving caps in place and, in the Right’s view doesn’t go far enough, although in their war of many slashes and cuts, they clearly see laws and policies trending in their direction.

If the escalation of the email that has inundated my in-box is any indication, Dems and the progressives see it in apocalyptic terms–the end of democracy as we know and the final nod towards plutocracy, if not fascism.… Read the rest

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US Supreme Court Opens Up Federal Elections To Richest Bidders

Make no mistake, the US Supreme Court’s decision to remove limits on monetary donations to candidates for federal political office is a game changer. The New York Times editorial board weighs in on the implications:

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States of America.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections. In the court’s most significant campaign-finance ruling since Citizens United in 2010, five justices voted to eliminate sensible and long-established contribution limits to federal political campaigns. Listening to their reasoning, one could almost imagine that the case was simply about the freedom of speech in the context of elections.

“There is no right more basic in our democracy,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the opening of his opinion for the court in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Part of Defense of Marriage Act

The U.S. Supreme Court is making headlines today, first of all with it’s 5-4 decision regarding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The story is breaking everywhere, this excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a federal law that restricts the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples in a major victory for the gay rights movement.

The ruling, on a 5-4 vote, means that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples.

The court was due to decide within minutes a second case concerning a California law that bans same-sex marriage in the state.

The federal case concerns the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits. It permits benefits such as Social Security survivor payments and federal tax deductions only for married, opposite-sex couples, not for legally married same-sex couples.

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An All Female U.S. Supreme Court

Proving, perhaps, that she takes extreme, radical positions on important issues, Justice Ruth Ginsburg says she wants an all female Supreme Court. From CBS:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hopes to see an all-female Supreme Court one day.

Ginsburg made the comment during a 10th Circuit Bench & Bar Conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder, according to CNS News.

“Now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay,” Ginsburg told the conference. “And when I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough and I say when there are nine, people are shocked.”

Ginsburg said that no one has “ever raised a question” when nine men were serving on the bench…

[continues at CBS]

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U.S. Supreme Court To Rule On Gay Marriage

Will the Roberts-led Supreme Court dare to stop the gay marriage juggernaut? This may be the week we find out, per this report in the LA Times:

After two decades in which gay rights moved from the margin to capture the support of most Americans, the Supreme Court justices will go behind closed doors this week to decide whether now is the time to rule on whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

For justices, the issue is not just what to decide, but when to decide it. In times past, the court has been faulted for waiting too long or moving too quickly to recognize constitutional rights.

The justices did not strike down state bans on interracial marriage until 1967, 13 years after they had declared racial segregation unconstitutional. Yet in response to the growing women’s rights movement, the court in 1973 struck down all the state laws restricting abortion, triggering a national “right to life” movement and drawing criticism even from some supporters that the Roe vs.

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Supreme Court Upholds Main Part Of Obamacare

UpstateNYer (CC)

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally decided to uphold the critical part of President Obama’s controversial health care law. Expect some Tea Party fireworks just in time for Independence Day next week… Robert Barnes and N.C. Aizenman report for the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.

The potentially game-changing, election-year decision — a major victory for the White House less than five months before the November elections –will help redefine the power of the national government and affect the health-care choices of millions of Americans.

Passage of the legislation by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010 capped decades of efforts to implement a national program of health care. The legislation is expected to eventually extend health-care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who currently lack it…

[continues at the Washington Post]

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Broccoli Set To Scupper Obamacare

David Monniaux (CC)

Can you believe that the United States Supreme Court is poised to throw out President Obama’s signature health care legislation based on a fear of being made to eat broccoli? I mean, whaaaaat??? James B. Stewart cites various precedents for “broccoliphobia,” but omits George H. W. Bush’s well known dislike of the healthy vegetable, which I would posit made it fashionable for conservatives to denounce it. He reports in the New York Times:

What does broccoli have to do with health insurance?

Until recently, nothing. But now, perhaps a lot.

Broccoli, of all things, came up in the Supreme Court during arguments over the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health care legislation. If Congress can require Americans to buy health insurance, Justice Antonin Scalia asked, could it force people to buy just about anything — including a green vegetable that many find distasteful?

“Everybody has to buy food sooner or later,” he said.

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