Archive for the ‘The Supremes’ Category
A federal judge upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriages on Wednesday, a rare loss for gay marriage supporters who had won more than 20 consecutive rulings overturning bans in other states. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman also upheld the state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. His ruling was the first to uphold a state ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. In 2004, 78 percent of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Feldman said gay marriage supporters failed to prove that ban violates equal protection or due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution. He also rejected an argument that the ban violated the First Amendment by effectively forcing legally married gay couples to state that they are single on Louisiana income tax returns. Feldman sided with the state, which had argued that the nation’s high court, in the Defense of Marriage Act decision, recognized the rights of state voters and legislatures to define marriage. Gay marriage supporters vowed to appeal. They had argued that the ban violated constitutional due process and equal-protection rights.
The Obama administration on Tuesday will publish a proposed rule that would give thousands of temporary and seasonal government workers access to the government’s health care program, even though Obamacare explicitly prohibits them from using that program.
The rule from the Office of Personnel Management would let these federal workers sign up for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and also allow some of them to enjoy a government contribution to their insurance premiums. Both steps would be done through OPM’s proposed regulation, and not through an act of Congress.
As passed by Congress, Obama set up rules governing which federal workers are eligible to enroll in an FEHB plan, and which cannot. For example, temporary federal workers with less than a year of service can’t enroll in FEHB.
Seasonal employees working six months or less are also prohibited, as are many intermittent employees. And temporary workers with more than a year of service can sign up, but get no government contribution.
OPM’s rule would change all that:
“This proposed rule would allow newly eligible employees (employees on an appointment limited to one year and employees working on a seasonal or intermittent schedule) to initially enroll under the FEHB program with a government contribution to premium if they are expected to be employed on a full-time schedule and are expected to work for at least 90 days,” the proposed rule states.
It would also let temporary employees with more than a year of service “to enroll in a FEBH plan… (with a government contribution to premium) if the employee is determined by his or her employing office to be newly eligible for FEHB coverage under this regulation.”
Republicans have argued for years that the Obama administration has improperly implemented Obamacare by creating various delays and taking other liberties that are not provided by the health care law. That frustration is prompting House GOP leaders to pursue a law suit against the administration.
Several major gay rights groups withdrew support Tuesday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace, saying they fear that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill might compel private companies to begin citing objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case last week.
The gay community is a key constituency and source of campaign donations for Democrats, and calls to rewrite the most significant gay rights legislation considered in recent years is a major setback for the White House, which had used passage of the legislation last fall as a way to draw a contrast with House Republicans, who have refused to vote on the measure.
But the groups said they can no longer back ENDA as currently written in light of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down a key part of President Obama’s health-care law. The court ruled that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s true if she says it over and over, it’s not true, just don’t believe that, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” [Megyn Kelly speaking of Sandra Fluke]
“So it’s a lot of corporations that could be affected, but only those who feel strongly about their religious beliefs,” Kelly explained. “Those folks aren’t going to have to provide abortion-related drugs: drugs that terminate an already-fertilized egg. That’s the only — out of 20 birth-control drugs that are available, they still have to cover 16. They just said we don’t want to fund those forms of birth control that end a fertilized egg.”
She charged on, focusing on former United States Secretary of Health And Human Services Kathleen Sebelius: American women “were buying their own [birth control]; for the past 20 years and beyond, they’ve been buying their own. And then what happened was we passed Obamacare. And then Kathleen Sebelius had some of her HHS minions go down in the basement and write a regulation that said as part of Obamacare, you have to cover 20 out of 20 birth-control drugs — 20 out of 20. And then women like Sandra Fluke started saying, ‘I’m entitled. Oh my God, I didn’t realize how victimized I was all those years when I was paying for it on my own.’”
“And Hobby Lobby, which is an evangelical company, came out and said, ‘Alright, we’ll do it, we’ll do it for all of it except four that end a fertilized egg,’ going forward” Kelly said.
“The Supreme Court said, ‘You’re right,’” Kelly concluded. “This [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] law passed by President [Bill] Clinton, that all those Democrats who are now rejecting signed on to — also voted for — that law protects you, Hobby Lobby, and Kathleen Sebelius’s minions in the basement don’t get to take your rights away from you.”
Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act will shift a few blocks away to another Washington courtroom, where a far more fundamental challenge to Obamacare is about to be decided by the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Indeed, if Hobby Lobby will create complications for Obamacare, Halbig vs. Burwell could trigger a full cardiac arrest.
The Halbig case challenges the massive federal subsidies in the form of tax credits made available to people with financial need who enroll in the program. In crafting the act, Congress created incentives for states to set up health insurance exchanges and disincentives for them to opt out. The law, for example, made the subsidies available only to those enrolled in insurance plans through exchanges “established by the state.”
But despite that carrot — and to the great surprise of the administration — some 34 states opted not to establish their own exchanges, leaving it to the federal government to do so. This left the White House with a dilemma: If only those enrollees in states that created exchanges were eligible for subsidies, a huge pool of people would be unable to afford coverage, and the entire program would be in danger of collapse.
Indeed, the Halbig plaintiffs — individuals and small businesses in six states that didn’t establish state exchanges — objected that, without the tax credits, they could have claimed exemption from the individual mandate penalty because they would be deemed unable to pay for the coverage. If the courts agree with them, the costs would go up in all 34 states that didn’t establish state exchanges, and the resulting exemptions could lead to a mass exodus from Obamacar
The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union’s costs of collective bargaining.
In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.
The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks – and bank accounts – in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.
In the case of public-sector unions, though, the employer is the government. And for that reason, the challengers in Harris argued, the unions’ collective bargaining is inherently a political activity—they’re essentially lobbying the government.
The challengers said allowing public-sector unions to collect fair-play fees is therefore requiring non-union employees to support political activities they don’t necessarily agree with—a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Monday’s ruling means that hundreds of thousands of home caregivers—in Illinois and in other states—will be free to stop paying membership dues, as they are effectively no longer considered public employees.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
The justices’ 5-4 decision is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies’ health insurance plans.
The Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that invalidated three appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board has thrown hundreds of the board’s decisions into question.
The board that rules on labor disputes is now scrambling to determine the impact of the high court decision. At issue is whether board decisions made when the now-invalid appointees were participating will have to be re-decided under the current NLRB.
By one count, more than 430 cases could be in doubt, including a decision to protect workers from being fired for complaining about their companies on social media sites.
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts.
The justices were unanimous in ruling that extending a buffer zone 35 feet from clinic entrances violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.
Chief Justice John Roberts said authorities have less intrusive ways to deal with problems outside the clinics.
While the court was unanimous in the outcome, Roberts joined with the four liberal justices to strike down the buffer zone on narrow grounds. In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion for carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”