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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Supreme Court term wraps, lawmakers ready ACA repeal vote

The U.S. Supreme Court’s October 2011 Term is in the history books, ending with a bang yesterday as the Court’s long-anticipated health care law ruling left the legislation largely intact.

But that doesn’t mean the debate over the law is over. House GOP lawmakers have already scheduled a vote to repeal the law for July 11, though it is unlikely such a measure would have enough support in the Democratic-controlled Senate to get off the ground.

We’ll bring you more on the law and its impact today and next week on Lawyers USA. As always, you can see all of our coverage of the high court on the Supreme Court Report.


AG Holder held in contempt of Congress

Capping an historic legal news day here in Washington, the House has voted for the first time in  history to hold a U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress.

As lawmakers, including more than a dozen Democrats, voted to censure Attorney General Eric Holder, a group of Democratic lawmakers walked out of the House chamber in a planned, yet dramatic display of protest. The move came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the federal health care law – making this a good day and a bad day for the Obama administration.

More on this story to come on Lawyers USA.

Supreme Court upholds health care law, mandate in 5-4 ruling

In a landmark opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care law – including the provision requiring individuals to purchase health care insurance.

In a divided ruling penned by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., the Court held that the mandate was within Congress’ taxing power– as opposed to its Commerce Clause power, which was the main thrust of the Obama administration’s argument.

The Court also held that the Medicaid expansion in the law is constitutional, but that the federal government may not withhold funding to states for failing to comply with the expansion provisions.

In an unrelated and odd twist, the Court dismissed as improvidently granted the case asking whether plaintiffs could bring REPSA claims absent a showing of actual injury – 213 days after the case was argued. It was predicted that a ruling in First American Financial Corp v. Edwards, would have had far-reaching impact on civil litigation.

The Court also struck down the Stolen Valor Act as violative of the First Amendment.

Much, much more to come on today’s activities at the Court on Lawyers USA.

Healthcare decision, Holder vote make for big news day

The U.S. Supreme Court will finally release the widely-anticipated opinions or opinions in the cases challenging the federal health care law this morning. At 10 a.m. the Court will convene for the last time this term to deliver opinions.

The Court will also rule in a case that has drawn fewer headlines, but could have a big impact on civil litigation rights: First American Financial Corp v. Edwards, which considered whether a plaintiff homeowner must show actual injury to bring a claim that a kickback scheme violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

Meanwhile, across the street from the Court, the federal government’s top lawyer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., faces a contempt of Congress vote in the House.

Lawyers USA will have the latest on all these stories today. And don’t forget to follow the action from DC Dicta and Lawyers USA on Twitter.

Is Roberts the author of the decision of the year?

As the nation awaits tomorrow’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care law, a new pastime has emerged: predicting which justice will author the landmark opinion.

And among the legal experts, Supreme Court junkies and internet chatterers, there appears to be a consensus of opinion: the landmark case’s author is likely Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.

That speculation is based on many factors, from the number of cases other justices have already authored, to the fact that Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy appeared to hold the deciding votes in the case  during oral arguments in March. Since Kennedy wrote the Arizona immigration case released by the Court Monday, Roberts likely penned the other of this week’s major bombshell opinions.

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post has more on the unusually high level of attention the Court is getting in anticipation of the ruling. For other Supreme Court news and analysis – including the potential impact of the Court’s ruling in the Arizona case, check out the Supreme Court Report on Lawyers USA.

Court rules on juvenile life terms, Ariz. immigration law

In two widely anticipated rulings, the Supreme Court ruled the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment bars juvenile homicide offenders from being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The Court also struck down several provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Sb1070, and ruled that the provision authorizing police to check the immigration status of detained individuals should not have been halted, but that it could face an as-applied challenge once it is implemented.

The Court will be back for the term’s last session Thursday, where it will announce opinions in the federal health care law challenge as well as the much anticipated RESPA case. As always, check Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report for our latest coverage of the Supreme Court.

No plumbers needed at the Supreme Court

The eyes of the nation seem to be on the U.S. Supreme Court as the anticipation over the upcoming decision in the health care challenge reaches a fever pitch.

But something is strange to people who don’t follow the Supreme Court on a regular basis: although the justices and those who work for them know – and have likely known for months – how the Court has ruled in the matter, no one has said a peep.  No need for a plumber – the Supremes don’t leak.

“Everybody, from the ordinary citizen to reporters who are not used to covering the Court, are getting and education about how the Court works,” said veteran Supreme Court litigator Paul Clement yesterday at a media briefing hosted by the National Chamber Litigation Center in Washington.

Given the potential impact of the case on this year’s election, Clement said, “in addition to the Supreme Court press corps, you also have more political reporters who are covering this case. And the thing that I’ve found most amusing is their complete inability to believe that there will not be leaks. They are just so used to covering the other two branches of government that they just assume that leaks are absolutely inevitable and that there is no way in the world you could have a decision this monumental, and have that many people know about it, and have at least presumably half of the people have some beef about what is about to happen, and nobody’s talking about it.”

But at a time when the Court’s popularity numbers are falling, the fact that the Court is setting itself apart in this way is a good thing, Clement concluded.

“I think this is a good thing for the Court,” Clement said. “[M]aybe in the long run … people will have an appreciation that this really is a different branch of government.”

For more Supreme Court news, including a breakdown of all this week’s decisions, see our Supreme Court Report.