5 reasons you hate/love the Obamacare decision (King v. Burwell)
What a week last week turned out to be at the Supreme Court! It certainly was exciting and unlike last year there wasn’t just one big case, like Hobby Lobby, that got so much attention. There were several big opinions that got the public’s attention over the last week, but one in particular has come up a lot this week.
Odds are you heard bits and pieces of the decisions, but it wasn’t exactly a light week for current events so you may have some gaps in the details. There’s also a very good chance you’re going to a holiday party this weekend where family or friends will gather and try ever so hard to avoid the cardinal sin of holiday gatherings – political discussions. They’re unavoidable and they always seem to happen whether you want them to or not. Rather than squirm or awkwardly walk away from the table when the inevitable happens, be ready and poised for that moment when someone says, “Did you hear about that healthcare decision?”
Such a question is not totally inappropriate. Given how recently the Court finished the term with not only controversial and timely cases, but also a spectacular array of passionate majority opinions, thundering dissents, and even one cantankerous concurrence read from the bench, it’s no surprise the subject could come up. Lots of folks fall back on current events as discussion starters at holiday parties when no one knows what else to talk about. Listen, we’re here to encourage you to resist the urge to flee either because you don’t feel confident enough to hold the conversation or you’re worried your politics may differ from the person engaging the discussion. It’s gonna be ok. Continue reading
In his dissent of the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Scalia referenced the value of asking your nearest hippie tough, complex questions about constitutional interpretation and the meanings of intimacy and expression.
So I did.
I don’t live in Marin County or Ojai; I live in Chicago but presently reside in D.C. so my nearest hippie is of the urban, erudite fashion, rather than the bell-bottomed kind. She uses cloth diapers though so she’s basically a hippie (to Scalia).
We didn’t talk about intimacy, expression, or spirituality. Instead we focused on the constitutional issues we both noticed from the decision and dissents in conversations. By the end of the mostly textual discussion,
we I thought other people were probably having similar conversations this weekend. In the spirit of inclusivity, we I decided to celebrate Scalia’s call to action by publishing the transcript of our Q&A from the weekend. We casually explore our mutual love of constitutional questions, same-sex marriage topics, and the Obergefell case. Ladies and gentleman, I present Cara & Christina on Con Law: The Same-Sex Marriage Cases edition.
While you were celebrating your free healthcare at gay wedding receptions, you likely missed a decision in a critical case about discrimination, housing, and a legal matter called disparate impact. The decision in this case (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project) came down Thursday and was off the radar because the Obamacare decision came down the same day. Roberts delivered the Obamacare decision, which upheld the national insurance program and was joined by five other justices. Yes, this much-hyped case – the biggest of the term, in the eyes of some – did not turn out to be a 5-4 decision. The Texas case, however, was the 5-4 case of the day in which Kennedy cast a decisive vote and authored the opinion for the four other liberal justices. Continue reading
History happened today. Will you remember where you were when the same-sex marriage decisions came down? I will. I was inside the Court when we all sat up somewhat shocked to hear the first case of the day was Obergefell v. Hodges. Again, I am lousy at predicting what cases we’ll get decisions on each day. This fact is already entered into the record. But because it was a decision of such importance, for the first time, I stopped writing, listened, and looked around to see how the audience, the public, were not only hearing but experiencing what I was hearing.
It wasn’t obvious from the start of Kennedy’s reading of the majority (made up of the four liberal justices) decision that it would come out on the side of the same-sex couples, many of which were in the Court to hear their case. He started off referencing the “millennia” of the institution of marriage. Those who listened to the oral arguments back in March will recall Kennedy used this word a lot to question Mary Bonauto, the attorney for the same-sex couples, on why the definition of marriage should be expanded to include same-sex couples when, for so long, it has been reserved to one man-one woman.
I was with a group of teachers tonight who were attending a professional development seminar dedicated to enriching their understanding of the Supreme Court. Excited to be in town on the day the SCOTUS announced the decision in King v. Burwell, they enthusiastically asked when the panelist thought the next big decision – likely the same sex marriage cases – would be announced. Tomorrow? Monday? What did he think?
tortured asked myself this question Wednesday night, on the eve of a three-day push to get through the remaining seven cases before the end of the 2014 term. The same question came to me via text, Twitter, email, Insta-G, and in a meeting on big events happening in the Court those days. I even sat down and drew a speculative calendar listing what cases I thought would come down each day, a Supreme Court case fantasy draft (party of 1), if you will. Continue reading
Last week, six cases rained down on us in one day at the Supreme Court. While the church signs and “bath salts” opinions got our attention, as did the bizarre and tragic timing of the Confederate flag drivers license decision, none of those stayed with me the entirety of the weekend like Ohio v. Clark. This is a case that all teachers, administrators, and parents should know about. Last Thursday, the Supreme Court announced a critical decision about conversations between students and teachers in schools around the country. Continue reading
Arizona’s political civil war calls our attention back to the Supreme Court for another case about political elections. The dispute in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission rests on the definition of who holds the power of a critical component of political agency in a state – the power to redraw districts. In 37 states, the legislatures have the power to redraw districts. Arizona used to be one of those states until, in 2000, voters changed the state Constitution redistributing that power from legislators to an independent, bipartisan commission. Continue reading