Tag Archives: scotus

SCOTUS Delivers Shock Decision, Upholds President Obama’s Healthcare Law 5 – 4

The Affordable Care Act has survived what should be the biggest legal challenge it will ever face - a 5-4 decision in support from the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act has survived (mostly) what should be the biggest legal challenge it will ever face – a 5-4 decision in support from the Supreme Court.

In perhaps what will go down as one of the biggest decisions in the 2010s decade, the Supreme Court of the United States unexpectedly sided with the Obama Administration in support of the Affordable Choice Act – ACA (or Obamacare, if you must… Romneycare if you’re even worse). At least it mostly did. The 5 – 4 decision was not swayed by the expected swing vote of Justice Kennedy, but instead by the Chief Justice himself John Roberts. This is notable as typically Chief Justices do not put themselves out there as the swing vote.

What can be described as a massive victory for the Obama Administration comes with a gigantic asterisk. While the law was mostly upheld, the individual mandate was not upheld under the Commerce Clause (Congressional power to regulate commerce between the states) upon which the case was originally made, but instead as being within the power of the Congress to tax. The court stated:

…it is abundantly clear the Constitution does not guarantee that individuals may avoid taxation through inactivity. A capitation, after all, is a tax that everyone must pay simply for existing, and capitations are expressly contemplated by the Constitution. The Court today holds that our Constitution protects us from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause so long as we abstain from the regulated activity. But from its creation, the Constitution has made no such promise with respect to taxes.

While having no immediate effect on the law, as SCOTUS ruled in favor, this distinction does have the future effect of making the path to overturning easier in theory. Only requiring 51 votes in the Senate to end a tax, a Republican hold of the House, capturing of the Senate, and victory by Mr. Romney in the fall would put ACA right back in the spotlight – and probably straight for the firing squad. A victory by Mr. Obama in November and/or a Democratic hold of the Senate would effectively shelve any talk of icing this law until 2014 at the earliest – in the event of a hold by Mr. Obama probably not until 2016.

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SCOTUS Rules 5 – 4 In Favor of Strip Searches For Any Reason

Albert Florence & his attorney Susan Chana Lask. Mr. Florence lost an appeal to the supreme court arguing his 4th Amendment rights were being violated over two forced strip searches relating to a traffic stop for an unpaid ticket.

Albert Florence & his attorney Susan Chana Lask. Mr. Florence lost an appeal to the supreme court arguing his 4th Amendment rights were being violated over two forced strip searches relating to a traffic stop for an unpaid ticket.

In another controversial 5 – 4 ruling by perhaps one of the most conservative Supreme Courts in modern history, it was decided that anyone picked up by the police and taken to jail for a booking could undergo an invasive strip search for any reason deemed necessary by the local authorities – regardless if the original offence was of a violent nature or not.

The case was brought forth by New Jersey resident Albert Florence, who is the unfortunate victim of some bad paperwork. At the beginning of the last decade, Mr. Florence was charged a fine for fleeing a traffic stop. He paid the fine in full, but that was never quite documented correctly by the state of New Jersey. Having his plates ran and being subjected to multiple traffic stops since, Mr. Florence carried documentation on his person indicating that the fine was paid in full. This did not help him in a March 2005 traffic stop. Mr. Florence was pulled over again and whisked away to jail, leaving his pregnant wife and four-year-old daughter behind with the vehicle. The official documentation meant nothing to the state trooper.

Mr. Florence was taken to the county jail in Burlington County, where he was strip searched. He was held without charge for the next six days before being transferred to another jail in the city of Newark, where he was strip searched again. After another day without charge, a judge released him.

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SCOTUS Takes Up Health Care Reform

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments for and against the 2010 health care reform bill, rendering a decision on parts or the entire law by the end of June.

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments for and against the 2010 health care reform bill, rendering a decision on parts or the entire law by the end of June.

The final test for the Obama Administration’s bid for healthcare reform is finally upon us. After passing the House by a narrow 219 – 212 margin, the Senate by a filibuster-proof 60 – 39, and signed into law by President Obama on 23 March 2010, a legal challenge is the last thing standing in the way of the law being fully implemented over the remainder of this decade.

The fog in the media surrounding this case is extremely thick, with hang-wringing opponents of the bill making this out to be an apocalyptic showdown between the forces of free market capitalism and a Stalinist dictatorship, “death panels” and all. If you can get past that, you’ll find that over the next three days the Supreme Court of the United States will spend the most time deliberating on a case that they have for decades, and are expected to reach a decision in June that could have far reaching impacts on the implementation of the law, the continued existence of the law, future budget deficits over the decade to come, the political capital of the Obama Administration heading into the full campaign swing, and potentially the outcome of the 2012 elections. With all of this in mind, it is surely one of the most important decisions that the Supreme Court will have handed down in our lifetimes.

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Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, official.

In today’s edition: the obvious happened, Russia & Georgia’s tensions a year later, and a green battery powered future


Causing more drama than it really should have, considering how set in stone this was from the very beginning, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed to be a Supreme Court Justice in the Senate by a a wide margin: 68 – 31.  As you may already know, this is historic so much in that she will be the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

Sotomayor, 55, was touted during three days of Senate debate as an American success story. Raised in a Bronx, N.Y., public housing project by her widowed mother, she had a stellar academic career and served as a federal prosecutor, trial judge and appellate court judge before President Barack Obama made her his first Supreme Court choice.

At the White House, Obama hailed the vote, saying, “These core American ideals – justice, equality and opportunity – are the very ideals that have made Judge Sotomayor’s own uniquely American journey possible. They’re ideals she’s fought for throughout her career, and the ideals the Senate has upheld today in breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.”

Still, there is a hint of things to come by the number of votes against her: 31.  That is the highest total since 1894, when Grover Cleveland’s pick, Wheeler Peckham, was denied by the upper house.  With John Paul Stevens being 89 years old and four other justices more than 70 years old, this battle against Obama might have multiple rounds.


Is Georgia the new Cyprus?

One year after Russia and Georgia went to war over a separatist Georgian region, the situation has settled into a Cyprus-style stalemate as Russia and the West remain at odds over the territory while pursuing closer economic and security ties.Russia routed Georgia’s U.S.-trained army in the five-day war over the separatist region of South Ossetia. After the conflict, Russia recognized South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia, as sovereign countries in the face of Western condemnation and deployed thousands of troops in the regions.

Georgia looks to be the odd man out, as the aim of the West is not to seek out destabilizing relations with Russia.  In the opposite case, the money to that country would be flowing at a much quicker rate, possibly with additional military assistance.  If the Georgians remain bent on stirring up drama with their large neighbour to the north they stand more of a chance of ending up looking like Kosovo than any sort of prosperous nation. As it stands right now, the divisions created by the war will take many years to heal, with sides reluctant to move any quicker at the table – leaving time and economics to determine how united Georgia will remain – if it is ever to gain back its lost territories.


The future is nice.  The future uses less gas.  The future is batteries.  Part of it is, at least, after $2.4bn was opened up for the development of battery technologies to power the hybrid and electric cars of the future.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the list of 48 grant recipients Wednesday in what is being called the largest ever investment in hybrid and electric car advanced battery technology. The grants, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, target U.S.-based manufacturers, automakers, universities, and battery developers in a bid to put a million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

The grants are divided into three areas: $1.5 billion to help U.S. manufacturers produce batteries and grow recycling capacity; $500 million toward U.S. production of electric drive components; and $400 million for education and workforce training, and the purchase and testing of electric vehicles in multiple locations.

Recipients, which agree to match the grant funds, span more than 20 states but are not surprisingly concentrated in existing auto manufacturing hubs such as Michigan and Indiana. Projects include truck stop electrification, hydrothermal lithium ion battery recycling, electric minivan and pickup truck development and deployment, and community college education for aspiring service technicians.

Breaths of fresh air are welcomed in the state of Michigan, trust me on this one.  While it’s not as much of a good news story as distancing ourselves from auto manufacturing may be, the idea that there might be a Detroit-based auto industry to forge on into the next decade and beyond is at least a little bit of a pick-me-up.

Your guns are still safe! (QH: 22 July 2009)

(admin note: with a little luck this will become an everyday thing around here, and perhaps even proof that I can write without going on for pages!)

Senate rejects bid to carry concealed weapons across state lines
The Senate defeated (58 – 30) a measure that would have allowed gun owners with permits to carry their guns across state lines.  While I am sure this will fire up the crowd that is convinced that Obama will take your guns away, there was some actual logic behind this move:

Wednesday’s bill would have allowed a firearms owner from a state with less stringent standards for securing a permit to bring his or her weapon into a state with tougher requirements.

The Los Angeles County sheriff, for example, requires permit holders to undergo eight hours of training. Mississippi residents can get a concealed-weapon permit without any training, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control group.

Sotomayor will be a SCOTUS judge: Senator Lindsey Graham admits the very, very obvious.

California prepares to gut itself: So what happens when you keep wanting to pay less and less taxes?  Take a look.

Monday’s deal reportedly allows for some 15 billion dollars in spending cuts, including slashing around nine billion dollars from schools, community colleges and state university programs.

It also cuts around 1.3 billion dollars from a state health care program for the poor as well some 124 million dollars from a scheme to provide health insurance to more than 900,000 children in low-income households.

…and also sets 27,000 prison inmates free.