FROM Carrie Severino
Supreme Court strikes down Texas Abortion Restrictions The US Supreme Court handed down a win for abortion rights voting 53 to strike down a restrictive Texas abortion law that activists argued would have shut down all but a handful of clinics in the state. It’s the court’s most sweeping ruling on abortion in two decades. And it could deter other states from imposing strict regulations on clinics as a means of forcing them to close. The law HB 2 required clinics to have surgical facilities and doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The justices ruled 53 that the law put an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion. It’s a the Supreme Court’s first major ruling on the issue in two decades.
The US Supreme Court and the Race to the White House The late Justice Antonin Scalia was famous for reliance on what he called the "original intent" behind America's founding document. His sudden death is creating winners and losers in cases now evenly split between conservatives and liberals. Immigration, abortion, voting rights and the power of organized labor will all be affected, dramatizing the Supreme Court's enormous influence on American life. This year's election could help shape the Third Branch of Government for generations to come. So, what about Scalia's successor?
Four Words and Seven Million Americans The Supreme Court found Obamacare to be constitutional two years ago. Today it was asked to decide a legal challenge . Does the law provide that subsidies for low-income people apply only where health insurance markets have been "established by the state?" The Court's interpretation of those four words could determine if subsidies are valid for seven million people who signed up where the federal government established the markets. It's a case deeply rooted in partisan politics. Four liberal court members and two conservatives made clear what they think. Chief Justice John Roberts could be the decider — but he was hardly heard from.
Another Split Decision, Another Political Firestorm The President says he is "deeply disappointed" with today's decision by a divided US Supreme Court, this time over the voting rights of blacks and other minority citizens. Writing for a 5-to-4 majority of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- a major achievement of the civil rights movement -- is out of date and therefore, unconstitutional. Roberts said federal guidelines for oversight of minority voting don't reflect present reality. Nine mostly Southern states and parts of others will no longer have to ask Washington to approve changes in their voting laws. Is voting discrimination against blacks and other minorities a thing of the past? We hear the dispute that's already raging.
Conservatives Justices Take Hard Line on Individual Mandate One major question raised by President Obama's Affordable Care Act is, just how much power does the so-called Commerce Clause give the federal government? Today, the US Supreme Court heard arguments about the so-called "mandate," which requires that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty. We hear what the justices wanted to know and what answers they got from the Obama Administration and its challengers. (Special thanks to Gideon Brower for production assistance.)
Conservatives Justices Take Hard Line on Healthcare Law One major question raised by the Affordable Care Act is, just how much power does the so-called Commerce Clause give the government? The "mandate" to buy health insurance or pay a penalty if you don't came under harsh attack today in the US Supreme Court. Would it mean the federal government could require Americans to eat broccoli, exercise or buy funeral insurance? Does the Affordable Care Act regulate commerce or create it? Is there any limit to government power? Justices were demanding answers today. How well did the Obama Administration's lawyer respond? What's next for the President's "signature legislative achievement?" (Special thanks to Gideon Brower for production assistance.)
Judicial Independence, Elections and Provocative Rulings In April of last year, the seven-member Supreme Court of Iowa effectively legalized same-sex marriage in a unanimous opinion. Last week, three of the justices faced a retention election, and all three were thrown out by the voters. What's the message to other judges whose decisions might be unpopular? Has fundraising for judicial campaigns, which has doubled in ten years to $206 million nationwide, eroded voter confidence in judicial independence? Are judges the guardians of minority rights against public opinion or "legislators in robes" who should be accountable to the people?
Should Judges Be Elected? In April of last year, the seven-member Supreme Court of Iowa ruled unanimously that the state law against same-sex marriage was a violation of equal rights. Last week, three of the justices faced a retention election and all three were thrown out by the voters. What's the message to other judges whose decisions might be unpopular? Fundraising for judicial campaigns has doubled in ten years to $206 million nationwide. Has that eroded voter confidence in judicial independence? Are judges the guardians of minority rights against public opinion or "legislators in robes" who should be accountable to the people?
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?