Supreme Court

Result of Today’s Health Care Hullabaloo: Obamacare (Maybe) Back to the Supremes

By on 7.22.14 | 5:26PM

In two separate rulings today, Obamacare subsidies were both upheld in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and struck down in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both cases deal with the textualism versus intent debate—whether judges can claim to divine the intent of legislators when ruling on a law, or have to read only the text in front of them.

In the D.C. ruling, the court agreed in a two-to-one decision that the text of the Obamacare law was to be interpreted as it stood. This means that subsidies in the federal exchanges are supposed to stop, but reports have since surfaced that the president is intending to ignore this ruling until there is further deliberation.

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A Conservative Case for Organized Labor

By on 7.7.14 | 1:54PM

The Daily Beast declares that “the right has good reason to keep organized labor alive.” They are correct, which is surprising, but they miss a few things worth thinking about, which is perhaps less surprising.  

Responding to the Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court decision, James Poulos argues that Justice Kagan’s dissent points to the imminent issue in labor politics: the purpose of unions’ existence.

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Lena Dunham Weighs in on Hobby Lobby

By on 7.3.14 | 2:14PM

As a twenty-four-year-old woman with friends on all sides of the political spectrum, I’ve heard quite a bit about the Hobby Lobby decision over the past couple days. I’ve seen a few thoughtful responses, but mostly I’ve been struck by the illogical and factually incorrect criticisms from otherwise intelligent and well-educated friends. If someone looked at my Facebook and Twitter feeds, he would surely think that birth control was banned forever and soon there will be babies everywhere.

The panic-stricken tirades came straight from the top. Feminist actress Lena Dunham tweeted, “Women's access to birth control should not be denied because of their employer's religious beliefs.” Sandra Fluke experimented with different fonts in Photoshop to send the message that “we’re sick and tired of SCOTUS putting corporate interests ahead of women’s rights!” Meanwhile, the writers at the Salon.com office just ran around screaming about Armageddon.

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Alito vs. Ginsburg on the Hobby Lobby Decision

By on 6.30.14 | 6:06PM

This morning the Supreme Court announced its decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, with Justice Alito delivering the majority opinion. The Court affirmed the Tenth Circuit decision, excusing Hobby Lobby and the other corporations represented in the case from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The store chain and Conestoga Wood Specialties opposed the required coverage of four contraceptive methods they consider abortifacients, which have the potential to terminate an embryo after its conception. Despite anticipation that victory for Hobby Lobby in the case would extend First Amendment rights to corporations, the decision explicitly denies that it does this, and bases its argument on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) rather than the First Amendment.

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Salon.com Has a Very Bad Day

By on 6.30.14 | 4:57PM

The single-celled brain trust known as Salon is having another bad day. After today's Supreme Court decisions, its writers have been breathlessly issuing stories decrying the erosion of women’s rights and the weakened power of unions, with the sky falling down and “unwanted babies” lining the street and that darned “one-percent.”

Breathlessly, Salon notes:

The Supreme Court’s ruling today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which said that employers with religious objections cannot be impelled to pay for contraceptive coverage for its employees, has reignited one of the more lopsided political fights of the current era: the War on Contraception.

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Why Should Unions Forcibly Collect Dues When They Spend Them on Politics?

By on 6.30.14 | 2:45PM

Take a good look at the LM-2 financial disclosure form for the Illinois-Indiana health care affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. That’s what Jennifer Parrish, a Minnesota child care worker, did a few days prior to today’s Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn. The LM-2 form is divided into three categories: representation activities, political activities, and general overhead. There’s also a gifts/grants section that shows the SEIU donates money to certain organizations that return the favor with their own contributions back to the union.

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Supreme Court Throws Out Contraception Mandate

By on 6.30.14 | 10:40AM

The Supreme Court this morning struck down the Obamacare contraception mandate and ruled in favor of craft supply store Hobby Lobby. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to closely held for-profit corporations just as it applies to non-profit organizations that object to providing contraceptive coverage. This is the first time SCOTUS has ruled that for-profit corporations can hold religious views, and is sure to spark debates about both religious freedom and corporate personhood. The Court said that the mandate wasn't the least restrictive means for the government to advance its goal of covered birth control. Justice Alito wrote the opinion of the Court, with Justice Kennedy concurring, and two separate dissenting opinions were filed by the liberal justices.

The Court also ruled in favor of Illinois home care workers who don't want to be forced to pay union dues, though it didn't apply the principle to all public-sector workers. If it had, the result would have been something close to a national right-to-work law. This decision, Harris v. Quinn, was also 5-4.

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To Be Absolutely Frank

Boehner’s Lawsuit Against Obama Is Just a Feint

By 6.27.14

So what’s with John Boehner’s newfound love of litigation? The speaker announced yesterday that he will ask the House to initiate a lawsuit against the president over his refusal to enforce the laws Congress has passed. That’s something the Wall Street Journal and George Will have both suggested, and it’s not a crazy idea.

First, the House likely has standing to bring an action. In 1990 a federal court held that a group of congressmen could not bring an action over George H.W. Bush’s failure to comply with the 1974 War Powers Resolution, but left open whether the House as a whole had standing. More recently, the House litigated the Defense of Marriage Act after the Obama administration declined to defend — and it would almost certainly have standing to litigate the president’s right to disregard litigation.

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Two Pro-Liberty Decisions From the Supreme Court

By on 6.26.14 | 6:23PM

Besides the United States' loss to Germany in the World Cup, today was a good day for liberty. The Supreme Court ruled to restrict the power of government in three recent Supreme Court cases.

In the first case, Riley v. California, the petitioner Riley was charged in connection with a shooting after officers stopped him for a traffic violation and then seized and searched his cell phone. The Court ruled that “the police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.”

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Supreme Court to Decide Limit of IRS Summons Power

By on 5.1.14 | 11:50AM

We know this for sure: Americans can’t trust the motives of the IRS.

Does a citizen have the right to challenge the IRS’s demands for information? This seems to be the issue in a case before the Supreme Court. Michael Clarke, chief financial officer for Dynamo Holdings, says his company had no chance to question the motive behind an IRS summons for information

When they can’t get information from taxpayers voluntarily (or fast enough for their liking), the IRS issues a summons to force disclosure with a court order. The summonses are routinely rubber-stamped with approval by district courts. 

Clarke says they should have had a chance to argue the legitimacy of the summons before it was approved. He feels the summons was issued as retribution for resisting an audit. He just wants to ask why it was issued before his company was forced to provide information.

A year ago, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Clarke, so the IRS appealed. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case on April 23.

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