The unexpected death of Justice Scalia throws a wrench into an already volatile 2016 election and what happens next will largely depend on a variety of factors and political calculations made by President Obama and the Republican controlled Senate.Here are some scenarios that can happen as the President and Senate battle it out over who will replace the late justice.
"They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed." And just like that, marriage equality is the law of the land.Today is a day millions of our citizens--both gay and straight--will never forget.
When is it time to throw in the towel and accept that the tide has turned? Napoleon must have asked himself this very question after being humiliated in the Battle of Waterloo and summarily exiled for the remainder of his life. It's also the same question many anti-gay marriage activists must be asking themselves after the Supreme Court refused to wade back into the gay marriage debate.
On Tuesday Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on what has become to be known as "The Hobby Lobby" case. I may be accused of being too hyperbolic, but I believe this case has the potential to redefine the concept of religious freedom for years to come.
You can read all of Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion upholding health insurance subsidies for the 34 states with federal Obamacare exchanges here. But you can also understand it by reading this one sentence:
As the end of the Supreme Court term nears, there's a growing anxiety surrounding the fate of the Affordable Care Act—and for good reason. If the court rules for the plaintiffs in the case of King v. Burwell, more than 6 million people could lose their health insurance subsidies, which would likely make their insurance plans unaffordable. National insurance markets could enter a death spiral that would cause many more to lose coverage.
John Roberts has changed. Consider the chief justice’s voting record. From 2005—the year he was appointed—until 2012—the year of the first Affordable Care Act decision—Roberts was a reliable vote on the court’s staunch conservative wing. In controversies from abortion to campaign finance to guns, Roberts sided with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy. The 2012 health care case was the first time Roberts had ever voted with the liberal side of the court in a 5–4 decision. Lately, however, we’re seeing a very different Roberts. Last term Roberts surprised many by breaking left on a few major cases.
The Supreme Court oral argument on Wednesday in King v. Burwell featured thousands of words, dozens of provocative questions, two engaged and skillful lawyers—and one very striking silence. Chief Justice John Roberts, usually among the most active questioners on the court, scarcely said a word throughout the highly anticipated clash. The justices besieged Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Michael Carvin, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, who are challenging a central provision of Obamacare, with so many questions that Roberts gave the pair ten extra minutes a side. The chief himself didn’t take up any of that time until practically the last moment. Roberts’s one question may turn out to be extremely important.
There is no serious legal case for the Supreme Court to eliminate subsidies for health plans on federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. This has been written many, many times already, and the New York Times’ Supreme Court columnist Linda Greenhouse makes it in stark detail today. It would go against everything the conservative Supreme Court justices have written before about statutory interpretation. “To reject the government’s defense of the law,” Greenhouse writes, “the justices would have to suspend their own settled approach to statutory interpretation as well as their often-stated view of how Congress should act toward the states.
Back during the heyday of the filibuster era, I tried always to note that the rules governing Senate filibusters hadn't dramatically changed and weren't necessarily a huge problem. What had changed were the norms about how often the filibuster would be used. By its two-votes-per state structure, the Senate has always over-represented certain minority interests. And through the centuries the filibuster and other procedural tools have been there as protections for minorities in situations where they felt particularly threatened by what the majority wanted. The innovation of then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was to disregard the previous norm that the filibuster should be a special-use-only tool.
Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has emerged as one of the most ideologically aggressive in decades, and its rightward trajectory is usually attributed to this simple fact: a majority of the justices are very conservative. Today’s Court contains, according to one study, four of the five most conservative justices to sit on the bench since FDR; Anthony Kennedy, the putative swing vote, is in the top ten.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in 2007, “is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Those words as much as any may define the chief justice’s jurisprudential philosophy today. In that 2007 opinion, he wrote for five justices that two urban school systems could not take account of the race of students, even in a small minority of cases, in order to prevent certain magnet schools from becoming racially isolated because of neighborhood housing patterns. “Simply because the school districts may seek a worthy goal does not mean they are free to discriminate on the basis of race to achieve it,” Roberts wrote, in part of the opinion written only for four justices.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an official review of Edith Jones, a conservative Federal Judge on the US Court of Appeals. Ms. Jones has been accused of saying that certain racial minorities are predisposed commit "heinous" acts, and that claims of mental retardation disgust her, among a host of other insensitive comments. The review will be handled by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.