Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Summary of important SCOTUS decisions to be announced in June

From the LA times. Here are snippets of those looming important in AZ.

Affordable Care subsidies

[A] much-anticipated decision will be whether the Obama administration may continue to subsidize health insurance for low- and middle-income people who buy coverage in the 36 states that failed to establish an official insurance exchange of their own and instead use a federally run version.

If the court rules against the Obama administration, about 8.6 million people could lose their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act said Americans must have health insurance, and the law promised to help pay part of the cost for low- and middle-income people. One clause said these subsidies go for insurance bought through an "exchange established by the state." But only 14 states established an exchange of their own, and the rest rely on exchanges set up by federal authorities. A small conservative group sued, alleging that subsidies in the 36 states are illegal. Supporters of the law say Congress clearly envisioned that subsidies would be offered in all states. (King vs. Burwell).

Redistricting

The court will decide whether the voters or politicians can set the election districts for members of Congress. At least once a decade, new census data prompt states to redraw their districts. Party leaders can use this power to draw safe seats for their members. Upset by gerrymandering, voters in Arizona and California opted to create an independent commission to draw congressional districts. Arizona's Republican legislators want the Supreme Court to strike down these commissions and rule the Constitution reserves this power for "the legislature." The case of Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was heard in March.

EPA rules on toxic emissions by power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to force power plants to sharply reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic and other hazardous air pollutants. The coal and power industries, backed by Republican-led states, say the nearly $10 billion a year required to abide by the rule is too high. The case of Michigan vs. EPA offers a test of whether the high court will uphold the Obama administration's most ambitious clean air rules, including proposed climate change standards. [Scriber's reaction: stop with the fossil-fuel-based emissions. Switch to renewables. Problem solved.]

Marriage and gay rights

The court has said the right to marry is a basic liberty protected by the Constitution. Same-sex couples, some of whom are raising children, say that as a matter of equal rights, states may not deny them a marriage license. In their defense of laws banning gay marriage, the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee say the decision should be left to them and their voters. (Obergefell vs. Hodges)

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