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Next Supreme Court health care law challenge could be on deck

Photo: (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

The next major legal battle involving the federal health care law inched a bit closer to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

The 4th Circuit upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, a move that sets the stage for the high court to take up the constitutional challenge to the provision, requiring employers to provide health care coverage to employees or pay a penalty, as soon as next term.

The circuit court had previously dismissed the case Liberty University v. Lew on procedural grounds, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to take up the matter under the Anti-Injunction Act. But after the Supreme Court rejected the AIA argument  it its landmark health care law ruling last year, the 4th Circuit revived the case and ruled on the constitutional challenge.

More here from our sister publication The Daily Record, and from the Lawyers USA archive.

Contraceptives challenge now before Supreme Court

The challenge over a provision of the federal health care law that requires most employers to provide health insurance coverage for emergency contraceptives for their employees has landed before the U.S. Supreme Court.

SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston reports that two employers – companies privately owned by individuals who object to such coverage for religious reasons – have asked the Court to rule on their challenge to the law on the basis that it interferes with their First Amendment-protected religious freedoms. The application in the case Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius asks the justices to weigh in before a federal appeals court rules, and is before Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor. The justice may act on the petition alone or refer it to the full Court for consideration.

The challenge is one of a series of lawsuits that have been filed across the country over the contraception provision of the law.

UPDATE: Sotomayor rejected the request for an emergency injunction blocking enforcement of the law, but did not rule on the merits of the case.

Scalia denies Supreme feud

As leaked reports of bad blood among the justices of the Supreme Court in the aftermath of the health care ruling continue to swirl in the media, Justice Antonin Scalia said they are not to be believed.

“You should not believe what you read about the Court in the newspapers,” Scalia told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that aired Wednesday night, “because the information has either been made up or given to the newspapers by somebody who is violating a confidence, which means that person is not reliable.”

“I haven’t had a falling out with Justice Roberts,” Scalia reiterated.

“Loud words exchanged?” Morgan pressed. “Slamming of door?”

“No, no,” Scalia responded. “Nothing like that.”

Scalia appeared in the interview with Bryan Garner to promote their new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.” More here from CNN.com.

Justices say bad feelings fade

There seems to be more interest in the behind-the-scenes relationships between the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court than in the cause of the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

But some of the justices themselves, speaking anonymously, say that any existing bad feelings stemming from the health care decision will be gone by the first Monday in October.

“Who on the Court is the sort of person who is going to carry a grudge? Nino Scalia isn’t going to carry a grudge. Clarence Thomas is going to pat you on the back and give you a hearty laugh all the time,” one justice said, according to a report by the National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro.

More Supreme Court news can be found on Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report.


Totenberg: Justices ‘really worried’ about leaks

The deliberations of U.S. Supreme Court justices have always been secretive and closely-held – until last week when details about Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s apparent vote change in the health care case were leaked to CBS News’ Jan Crawford.

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s veteran Supreme Court correspondent, said the justices fear such leaks. “The justices are really worried about it. They are always worried about it,” Totenberg, who counts several current and former justices as her “professional friends” told Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

But Totenberg cautioned not to read too much into Roberts’ apparent change of heart, saying that during the course of case deliberations it is not unusual for a justice to change his or her mind. That is why reporting leaked information from the Court is always a dangerous proposition for a news reporter. Had she been leaked information about the health care ruling before it was released by the Court, she said, “I would have been scared to death.”

Totenberg’s full interview is below. For more Supreme Court news and information, see Lawyers USA‘s Supreme Court Report.

Health care ruling a bitter pill for some justices

Have you ever had a coworker who rubbed you the wrong way, creating a tense atmosphere in the office? Well imagine if you are a Supreme Court justice in that situation; apparently the tension on the bench is so thick you can cut it with a scalpel.

That’s the result of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s now famous – and infamous – opinion in the health care case, reports CBS News’ Jan Crawford. Robert’s decision to break from the Court’s conservatives and uphold the law’s individual mandate under Congress’ taxing power really irked some of his fellow justices, Crawford said.

“[S]ome people say you would have to go back nearly 70 years to see this kind of tension, and almost bitterness, that now exists among the justices,” according to the report.

Get the latest Supreme Court news and analysis – including a wrap of the term’s biggest decisions – on our Supreme Court Report.

Did Roberts change his vote in the healthcare case?

In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the federal health care law, Supreme Court watchers have been posing a new question about the Court’s deliberations in the case: did Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. change his vote?

According to CBS News’ Jan Crawford, he did – spurring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to lead a month-long effort to convince Roberts to return to the other side.

“He was relentless,” one of Crawford’s two sources said of Kennedy. “He was very engaged in this.”

According to Crawford’s report:

“It is not known why Roberts changed his view on the mandate and decided to uphold the law. At least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain it, but was unsatisfied with the response, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.”

Meanwhile, check out Lawyers USA’s analysis of the decisions legal impact.

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.


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.