Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Upholds ACA as Constitutional

Today is the day anticipated by many: the Supreme Court has issued its opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").  The SCOTUSblog live feed saw well over 500,000 readers at the time the decision was issued.

Without further ado, the opinion is here.

Here is a quote from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog, via the liveblog:
In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding. WOSU is current discussing the decision and its implication(s) here.

Here is the first SCOTUSblog post following the decision:
Salvaging the idea that Congress did have the power to try to expand health care to virtually all Americans, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutionality of the crucial – and most controversial — feature of the Affordable Care Act.   By a vote of 5-4, however, the Court did not sustain it as a command for Americans to buy insurance, but as a tax if they don’t.  That is the way Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., was willing to vote for it, and his view prevailed.  The other Justices split 4-4, with four wanting to uphold it as a mandate, and four opposed to it in any form.

And here is the first SCOTUSblog post on the Medicaid portion of the decision:
The Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion is divided and complicated.  The bottom line is that: (1) Congress acted constitutionally in offering states funds to expand coverage to millions of new individuals; (2) So states can agree to expand coverage in exchange for those new funds; (3) If the state accepts the expansion funds, it must obey by the new rules and expand coverage; (4) but a state can refuse to participate in the expansion without losing all of its Medicaid funds; instead the state will have the option of continue the its current, unexpanded plan as is.
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Exciting as this decision is, it is not the only one issued by the Court today.  The Court also dismissed the case of First American Financial v. Edwards and upheld the decision of the 9th Circuit in the case of United States v. Alvarez, finding the "Stolen Valor Act" unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment.

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Several popular law blogs have already posted on the health care decision:

The Volokh Conspiracy

WSJ Law Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Article on Evolution of SCOTUSblog

Forbes has posted an interesting article on the evolution of SCOTUSblog, probably the best source for up-to-date information on activity in the U.S. Supreme Court. This year marks the site's 10th in existence. Nearly 100,000 users tuned in to its live blog on Monday, in anticipation of the Court's health care ruling. More likely will tune in tomorrow. See Robert Ambrogi's Lawsites for more on SCOTUSblog's success.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sandusky Verdict

Last week, we posted about the final days of the Jerry Sandusky trial.  On Friday evening, after two days (21 hours) of deliberation, the jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 out of the 48 charges.

Details of the charges can be found at CNN.

Sandusky will be sentenced sometime within the next several months, and is currently being held at the Centre County Jail.

More news and commentary:

CBS Pittsburgh

Washington Post

Huffington Post

Boston Herald

ABC News

Monday, June 25, 2012

Big Day at Supreme Court, Though No Health Care Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court issued several significant opinions today, though not the much-anticipated health care opinion, which is now expected Thursday. In addition to striking down (5-3 with Justice Kagan recusing) much of Arizona's controversial immigration law, the court ruled (5-4) that mandatory life without the possibility for parole sentences are unconstitutional for juveniles. As we have noted previously, Moritz Professor Doug Berman and some of his students submitted an amicus brief in the juvenile sentencing case. Check Professor Berman's Sentencing Law and Policy blog for his preliminary thoughts on the opinion. Also see initial analysis of the Arizona immigration case and the juvenile sentencing case on SCOTUSblog.

Friday, June 22, 2012

European Vacation

Fittingly, the arrival of summer brings news of vacation litigation. The Columbus Dispatch reports on a new decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union.  In short, the Court of Justice ruled that workers who get sick on vacation are entitled to an extension of their vacation.

For more details, read a press release from the Court of Justice and the judgment of the Court.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Closing Arguments Begin in Sandusky Trial

While the Supreme Court issued four more opinions today, none was the much-anticipated health care ruling.

In other high-profile legal news, closing arguments began today in the trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.  Prior to closing arguments, Judge John Cleland dismissed three charges against Sandusky: two because they were unsupported by evidence, one because it was identical to another charge.  Sandusky now faces 48 charges.

The defense rested yesterday; Sandusky did not take the stand.



Bloomberg News

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live T.V. Coverage of Health Care Decision Announcement?

Senators Patrick Leahy (D) and Charles Grassley (R) recently sent a letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, urging the Court to consider a live television broadcast of the delivery of its health care decision. According to the senators, permitting a live television broadcast would "bolster public confidence in our judicial system and in the decisions of the Court." A coalition of news organizations previously sent a letter containing a similar request for live audio access to the announcement of the decision. The court did not grant requests by C-SPAN and Senator Grassley for live television coverage of the health care oral arguments in March. A decision from the court on the merits of the case is expected by the end of this month.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Justice Ginsburg Discusses "Sharp Disagreement" at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issued opinions in four cases yesterday, though none was the much-anticipated health care ruling.

At the convention of the American Constitution Society on Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke of the current "flood season" at the Court, and attempted to challenge her reputation as "least funny" Justice (from a study measuring the laughter provoked by each Justice during oral argument).

Justice Ginsburg also said, "It is likely that the sharp disagreement rate will go up next week or the week after," and spoke of the value of dissents in causing systemic change, as with the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.

Complete remarks are here.


Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Redemption" Bill for Felons Passes Ohio House

In a bipartisan effort to help Ohioans with criminal records to find jobs (and thus avoid recidivism), the Senate and House have passed the "collateral sanctions" bill, which reduces the number of post-conviction sanctions offenders face, including being ineligible for certain occupational licenses.

The bill will affect almost 2 million Ohioans and is expected to be signed by Gov. Kasich.

S.B. 337

H.B. 524

Columbus Dispatch

Dayton Daily News

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Girlfriend Sentenced for Harboring "Whitey" Bulger

Catherine Grieg, girlfriend of James "Whitey" Bulger, was sentenced to eight years in prison today, for identity fraud and harboring a fugitive.  The couple lived for sixteen years in Santa Monica before their capture in June 2011. 

Bulger faces murder and racketeering charges.  Trial is set for November of this year.


Los Angeles Times

Sentencing Law and Policy

Monday, June 11, 2012

Moritz Grad Confirmed for Federal Judgeship

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed Jeffrey Helmick, a Toledo attorney and Moritz grad, as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. President Obama nominated Helmick a little over a year ago. See coverage in the Toledo Blade and a record of the confirmation vote at and the U.S. Senate website.

Friday, June 08, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Approval

While it still fares much better than the legislative branch, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court's popular approval rating has dipped to 44 percent. According to a New York Times article about the poll, the court's rating has declined over the past quarter-century from a high of 66 percent in the late 1980s. Predictably, many of the comments to the article reference Citizens United.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Exotic Animals Bill Signed

We have written in the past about the exotic animals legislation that was introduced in the wake of the Zanesville tragedy last October, in which dozens of wild animals were let loose before their owner committed suicide.

On Tuesday, Gov. Kasich signed the bill into law.  It will take effect 90 days from signing.

Columbus Dispatch

Mansfield News Journal

The Human Society

Monday, June 04, 2012

Most-Cited Law Review Articles

Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse, law librarians at Yale and Harvard, respectively, have published a study of the most-cited law review articles of all time.  Published in the Michigan Law Review, the study lists the top 100 articles by number of citations.  The top five are:

1.  R.H. Coase, The Problem of Social Cost, 3 J.L. & Econ. 1 (1960).

2.  Samuel D. Warren & Louis D. Brandeis, The Right to Privacy, 4 Harv. L. Rev. 193 (1890).

3.  3138 O.W. Holmes, The Path of the Law, 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457 (1897).

4.  Gerald Gunther, The Supreme Court, 1971 Term—Foreword: In Search of Evolving Doctrine on a Changing Court: A Model for a Newer Equal Protection, 86 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (1972).

5.  Herbert Wechsler, Toward Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law, 73 Harv. L. Rev. 1 (1959).

More on the newest entry in the field of "citology":

Wall Street Journal

ABA Journal

Friday, June 01, 2012

OSU Commencement Addresses

The Ohio State University Archives has made available online the text of many of the university commencement addresses over the years. Some of the speakers have Moritz College of Law connections, including distinguished alumni William B. Saxbe (1975 speech), Robert M. Duncan (1979 speech), and Yvette McGee Brown (2009 speech), as well as current Moritz College of Law professor Deborah Jones Merritt (2004 speech). Browse the lists for former U.S. Presidents and other well-known figures such as one Elwood Gordon Gee (1991 and 1997 speeches).