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Supreme Court Strikes Down TX Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Texas law limiting access to abortions was unconstitutional:

The Supreme Court’s 5 to 3 decision ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law that required all abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters of the regulations under House Bill 2 said they aimed to protect women’s health. Abortion advocates called the mandates unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights.

...In the court opinion, the justices said lawmakers couldn’t prove the rules actually protected women’s health. The move suggested restrictive abortion measures won’t stand unless policy designers prove they keep women from harm.

The opinion is here. [More...]

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Obama's Supreme Court Pick

I read the other contenders withdrew from the race.

I couldn't disagree more with Obama's announcement that he's tapped Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.

We don't need another Alito on the Court. It's got enough conservative law and order type former prosecutors.

Republicans will love this choice. It seems to me Obama just wants to appease them and get them to back off their position that the next president should get to choose Scalia's replacement.

So disappointed.

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Obama's Supreme Court Choices

A new name has emerged as a finalist in the Supreme Court sweeps to replace Justice Scalia. Meet Paul Watford.

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Justice Thomas Asks Questions

Justice Clarence Thomas asked questions of a government lawyer during oral arguments yesterday. It was the first time in 10 years he's asked a question. What was the case? A gun rights case.

"Ms. Eisenstein, one question," Thomas said. "This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?"

What misdemeanor is that? The federal law that prohibits someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in state court from owning a firearm.The case is Voisine v. United States.

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On Scalia and Naming His Replacement

On Scalia and his legacy, I wrote this.

The issue of replacing Scalia, Kagro and I did this. Starting at the 40 minute mark, I think David and I discuss this in a manner that, imnsho, you won't find anywhere else. Take a listen.

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Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79

You'll have heard this by now.

The big issues - President Obama will nominate a replacement. The GOP Senate will not vote or confirm the nominee. What will this mean?

Discuss.

[Update TL below]}

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Supreme Court Upholds Execution Drug

In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court has upheld Oklahoma's use of midazolam in executions. The reasoning:

Alito said the prisoners failed to identify a “known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which he said was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection. And he said plaintiffs had failed to establish that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Some background is here. The opinion is here.

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SCOTUS Rules Constitution Requires Marriage Equality

Decision here.

Discuss.

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Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Health Care Act

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Choices Act. The opinion in King v. Burwell is here.

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and will give it a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net

Dissenters: Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The Court upheld the Act's tax subsidies intended to assist the ability of the poor and middle-class to buy health insurance. [More...]

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Would a public option have eliminated incentive for King v. Burwell?

There is no public option in the Affordable Care Act. On its own merits, as Wendell Potter explains, that's a shame. But there is another reason why no public option in ACA is a bad thing - if ACA included a public option, the challenge to tax credits and subsidies on the exchange, now before the the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, would never have existed.

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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

In a 6-2 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions. The full opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is here.

The opinion holds that Michigan voters had the right to amend their constitution to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions decisions.

Justices Sotomayor wrote the 58 page dissent, joined in by Justice Ginsburg. The Chicago Tribune discusses the dissent here. [More...]

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Opening SCOTUS Briefs In Hobby Lobby, Conestoga

Via Marty Lederman, the government's opening brief (PDF) in Hobby Lobby and the plaintiff's opening brief (PDF) in Conestoga. The government is the petitioner in Hobby Lobby and the Conestoga plaintiffs are the petitioners in their case.

Bone up as we will be discussing these issues during the week.

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Supreme Court Limits Warrantless Forced Blood Tests for DUI Suspects

The Supreme Court today ruled in Missouri v. McNeely (opinion here) that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Sotomayor. There were two concurring and one dissenting opinions.

While the court didn't say a warrant was needed, it made clear officers shouldn't assume one is not needed. Scotus Blog explains: [More...]

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Supreme Court Rules Against Warrantless Canine Sniffs at Homes

The Supreme Court has taken a step to keep the 4th Amendment from going to the dogs. It ruled today that police may not use the fruits of a warrantless dog search at the front door to a residence as probable cause for a search warrant. The case is Jardines v. Florida and the opinion, written by Justice Scalia, is here.

[More...]

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Supreme Court Rejects FISA Surveillance Challenge

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Alito, today ruled civil rights groups and lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees lacked standing to challenge the 1998 FISA Amendment that allowed their overseas conversations and e-mails to be intercepted. The case is Clapper v. Amnesty International, the opinion is here.

Split 5-4 on ideological lines, with conservatives backing the government and the liberal wing in the minority, the country's highest court said none of the three categories, including human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have legal standing to sue because they could not show they had suffered any injury.

The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, says: [More...]

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