With its potent mix of religion, sex, Obamacare, and prayerful corporations, it’s the blockbuster case of the term. It is also a crucial test of Chief Justice John Roberts’s leadership on the Supreme Court.
Antonin Scalia, why do you hate America?
“Part of Roberts’ decision, joined by the dissenters, limited the federal government’s ability to dictate how states use Medicaid funds—and in a way that could have serious effects. Roberts and the conservatives accepted the argument that the federal government effectively coerced the states by threatening to withdraw existing Medicaid funds if they do not expand the program, as the Affordable Care Act calls upon them to do.
This makes the expansion of Medicaid essentially voluntary. The federal government is picking up most of these costs, so most states will take the deal anyway. But states could decline to expand if they chose—and it’s not clear (to me) what happens then. In addition, that part of the ruling could limit the federal government’s leverage over states in the future.”
-Jon Cohn, “Supreme Court Rules, Obamacare Can Go Forward”
Will the Supreme Court do the right thing?
"The policy consequences of overturning the Affordable Care Act, even in part, would be severe: Many millions of Americans would lose access to health insurance while many more would lose crucial consumer and financial protections. For some, it might literally be the difference between life and death."
- The Editors, Judgment Day
Photo courtesy of Scene-Stealers
Just how little does Justice Scalia know about immigration policy?
"One of the reasons that Washington’s approach to immigration—unlike Arizona’s—is so complicated is that federal policymakers need to take account of geopolitical considerations when deciding which undocumented immigrants to target for deportation. Donald Verrilli, Obama’s solicitor general, said as much, arguing that a maximal approach to immigration enforcement could create problems for U.S. relations with Mexico. “So we have to enforce our laws in a manner that will please Mexico?!” Scalia protested. But that’s a rather unfair way of describing Washington’s decision-making process on immigration. Of course geopolitical considerations are—and should be—taken into account when the federal government makes immigration policy. "
- Nathan Pippenger, Scalia Reveals How Little He Knows About Immigration Policy
Photo courtesy of The New Yorker
First immigration, now health care: Did the federal government screw up its arguments before the Supreme Court again?
"In fact, however, as he did in the health care case, Verrilli again failed to make the most convincing constitutional argument in support of his position. The argument that the government should have offered in the immigration case closely resembles the one it failed to offer in the health care case. In the immigration case, the argument goes something like this: The Framers of the Constitution intended to transfer power over foreign relations from the individual states to the federal government. The federal government uses its immigration powers—including the power to welcome, expel, detain, and place conditions on aliens—as an instrument of foreign policy. State laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 undermine the uniformity of federal foreign relations policy and can harm relations with foreign countries by inviting retaliation against U.S. citizens abroad.”
Photo courtesy of MSNBC
Arizona has a cruel immigration law, but will the Supreme Court uphold it?
"A ruling in favor of Arizona would have cultural and social consequences as well, say opponents: It would essentially bless racial- and ethnic-profiling, and create profound inconsistencies in policies between different states. “On an important issue like immigration, where we’re supposed to speak with one voice, you’ll have a cacophony of voices,” Chishti warns. The split between welcoming and unwelcoming states could become even starker. Besides the states whose existing laws will likely move forward, the list of additional imitators, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progressas well as my reporting, could eventually include Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.”
- Nathan Pippenger, Next at the Supreme Court: A Deeply Cruel Policy Comes Before the Justices
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Should Supreme Court justices have term limits?
"Life terms might make sense if Supreme Court justices had life spans comparable to those of rock stars. But they don’t. Possibly because they don’t typically abuse drugs, or possibly because they don’t fly as often on private planes, Supreme Court justices live much, much longer than rock stars. And because they usually aspire to leaving office feet first—a goal often met—they’re much more likely to become gaga on the job. Another problem is that longevity has made the Supreme Court confirmation process extremely partisan and contentious—the stakes are just too absurdly high. The era of bitter Supreme Court confirmation fights—some say the era of bitter partisan politics in general—began in 1987, when Democrats defeated Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork. That was a quarter-century ago, and if Sen. Ted Kennedy, D.-Mass., hadn’t played it pretty rough (“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution,” etc.) then Bork, who turned 85 last month, would probably still be sitting on the Court.”
- Timothy Noah, Life Sentences
Photo courtesy of MSNBC
What can an early 20th century Supreme Court ruling on a child labor law tell us about the fate of Obamacare?
"The parallels between the child labor issue and the health care issue are remarkable. In both cases, the legislation in question was the product of a decades-long struggle. Universal health care has famously been a goal of American liberals since Theodore Roosevelt proposed it in 1912. The movement to abolish child labor, for its part, stretches back to the first years after the Civil War: When the Knights of Labor was founded in 1869, its constitution included a provision calling for abolition of child labor, and a similar position was adopted by the American Federation of Labor when it was created in 1886. The National Child Labor Committee was organized in 1904, and the first federal law was introduced in 1906. For his part, Roosevelt supported a national study of the problem."
- Andrew Koppelman, The 1918 Case That May Have Foreshadowed Obamacare’s Demise