This Friday afternoon the U.S. Supreme Court will consider 10 different petitions seeking review of lower court decisions on same-sex marriage. Nobody will be in the room except the nine justices–no law clerk, no court reporter, not even a guard. But I’d love to be a fly on the wall because it’s going to be a tactical battle par excellence.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday on an important case for freedom of religion. In Case #3 on my Top Ten List of SCOTUS cases this term, Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the Court held–in a decision that was, amazingly, 9-0–that:
The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First
Amendment bar suits brought on behalf of ministers against their churches, claiming termination in violation of employment discrimination laws.
In plain English, the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom means that churches can pick–and fire–their ministers as they choose, without government interference, even if the case might ordinarily fall under the purview of employment discrimination laws.
Number One on my Top Ten List of upcoming Supreme Court cases is, of course, Obamacare. If you missed my earlier posts on the subject:
- here’s some background, including info on the four specific issues the Court will rule on;
- here’s the skinny on the argument about whether Justice Thomas should recuse himself from the case;
- and next time (sorry, no link for that one yet) we’ll read the tea leaves and talk about What It All Means.
But first, let’s look at the other recusal issue: Justice Kagan’s last job.
And so it comes down to this.
The most important debate in our country this year, perhaps this decade, won’t be any of the endless presidential debates. It won’t occur in Congress or the media. You and I will never know the details.
On March 30th, the Supreme Court of the United States will gather in private to discuss and vote on legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
It’s a case that could easily finish transforming us from a republic with a federalist system of checks and balances to an oligarchy in which a handful of D. C. bureaucrats can regulate every aspect of our lives.
And it will most likely all come down to the vote of one man–Justice Anthony Kennedy–in a 5-4 decision on the constitutionality of two specific aspects of the law.
And that brings us to (drum roll, please) . . .
2. Perry v. Brown (sometimes still called by its original title, Perry v. Schwarzenegger).
When I started this list, I penciled in Perry at #2. It’s now clear that it’s not going to get to SCOTUS this term. I’m still going to talk about it, though, because it’s still coming, and it’s still going to be a blockbuster when it gets here.
Background: Eleven short years ago, the Netherlands became the first jurisdiction in history to give same-sex couples the legal right to marry. Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2008), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010) , Iceland (2010) and Argentina (2010) have since followed suit.
With the announcement this week that SCOTUS will indeed rule on Obamacare this term, I’m eager to talk about that.
If you’re just joining us, I’ve been working through a Top Ten List of cases to watch at the Supreme Court this year. After years of a docket weighted toward corporate cases, the high court’s docket this year is filling up with cases dealing with freedom of speech and religion, and personal and states’ rights, that could change the landscape for decades to come.
And then, of course, there’s Obamacare.
But first, let’s talk about freedom of religion.
And now, without further ado, I bring you Number Three . . .
Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC
Ladeees a-a-and gentlemen, girls and boys, welcome to the next installment of CBC‘s Top Ten List of cases in the U.S. Supreme Court’s October Term, 2011. (If you don’t know what October Term is, check here–and you can read Case #5, FCC v. Fox, while you’re at it if you like. If you want to see Cases 6 and 7, click here; for #8-10, here.)
And now, without further ado, I bring you (the envelope, please) . . .
4. Arizona v. U.S.
Background: The Arizona state legislature passed an anti-illegal-immigration law which was due to take effect in July, 2010. Among other things, it:
- required police, while enforcing other laws, to ask about a person’s immigration status when they had a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an illegal alien;
- made it a crime for the person not to produce an ID;
- gave private citizens more ability to sue state and local agencies that refused to enforce existing immigration laws;
- made it illegal for state and local agencies to have policies that restricted enforcement of federal immigration laws.
The U.S. Justice Department sued the State of Arizona.