Scalia said go “ask the nearest hippie.” So I did. On Gay marriage, John Roberts, Outkast, and Rosé.

SCALIAIn 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 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.

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The saddest, but best decision, out of the SCOTUS last week

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

Making heads and tails (and “death spirals”) of the healthcare case, King v. Burwell

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Do you live in a state with its own exchange?

How many articles, journals, blog posts, podcasts, and Tweets does it take to understand King v. Burwell? The short answer: Several. One can easily find himself in their own “death spiral” of content, to use the parlance of the media and Justices recently, and still end up in the same place – confused, but maybe hungry for more.

I was hungry for more and followed the analyses closely, but even I got a bit lost in the weeds of the case. It’s been over a week since oral arguments were delivered in King v. Burwell, which took a second stab at the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court. By Thursday of last week, at least five friends and students asked me “What the heck is this case really about?” I forwarded links to articles and podcasts that delivered simple, straightforward explanations, and recommended writers to follow on Twitter. But I know some of those well-intentioned folks will never open that link, listen to the podcast, or even open the email. What to do?… Continue reading

OT14…Let’s do this. Heien v. North Carolina and Happy Bday to Us!

5-cent explanation: If police mistakenly stop you for a traffic violation can they still use evidence taken during a search despite the error?

10-cent explanation: This is the first post and first case to kick off the October term 2014. Another year, another case involving law enforcement conduct during vehicle searches. Last year’s 4th Amendment case involved police searches of cell phones during minor traffic stops. In June of 2014 the Chief Justice said, bluntly, “Get a warrant.” Although this case doesn’t question a warrant challenge, it does involve a constitutional aspect of the 4th Amendment. Recall that the 4th Amendment protects one against unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, places, or things. If police have reasonable suspicion of a driver they may stop the vehicle to check things out. The question in this case is whether the officer’s reasonable suspicion of the driver – who was stopped because he had one only working tail light – is enough to justify his stop and subsequent search of the vehicle.   Continue reading

The environment, greenhouse gases, and the SCOTUS: On Utility Air v. EPA

5-cent explanation: To what extent can the Environmental Protection Agency regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary, i.e. industrial, sources?

10-cent explanation: In 2007, SCOTUS ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), per the Clean Air Act (1970), so long as they were deemed a danger to public health. The agency accordingly concluded that GHGs from motor vehicles were dangerous and began to regulate them. The agency also concluded if it was going to reduce GHGs from mobile sources, stationary sources should be regulated as well.   Continue reading