FROM David Savage
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?
Racial Diversity at UCLA…before and after Prop 209 "What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?" That question was asked today by John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States. The court was re-considering the case of Abigail Fisher , a white woman who sued the University of Texas, Austin, for admitting black students while rejecting her. She said affirmative action was a form of racial discrimination. David Savage covers the court for the LA Times . In California, considering race for public college admissions was banned when voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996. The percentage of African American students dropped by half the following year -- from 6% to 3%. Ten years later, it was 2%. We hear from African American students at UCLA, before and after Prop 209 went into effect.
SCOTUS Rules on L.A. Hotels, California Raisin Farmers and More Los Angeles police are not allowed to randomly search guest registries at the city’s hotels and motels. That’s one of the decisions that came out today from the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices also handed down rulings involving California raisin farmers and Marvel. We’re still waiting for their decisions on the big cases of this session, including gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
Gay Marriage at the Supreme Court Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over same-sex marriage. The justices considered two main questions: Does the Constitution require states to recognize gay marriage? And, must states that don’t allow same sex marriage recognize gay couples who were married elsewhere? Today’s arguments actually involved four cases, wrapped into one. The justices appeared divided. We peek inside the hearing.
Coal, Clean Air and Presidential Power Mercury, which damages the brains and nervous systems of children from the time they're in the womb, is just one of the toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. New EPA regulations would require high-tech scrubbers to limit emissions. Arguments before the US Supreme Court today pitted the coal industry against the Environmental Protection Agency. Twenty states joined the opposition to power-plant regulation, while 17 other states said it's needed. But does the Clean Air Act require the agency to balance the potential health benefits against the cost of the technology? Did the justices provide any clues about rulings to come on Obamacare and actions against climate change?
Dueling Rulings on Obamacare This morning, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Obama administration in what could be a potentially crippling blow to the Affordable Care Act. But then - two hours later - another appeals court, the Fourth Circuit, in a completely separate case, came to the exact opposite conclusion.
The Supreme Court Wraps Up Its Term Two key Supreme Court decisions were made today. One allows closely held companies to opt out of the requirement of having to provide contraception coverage for employees under Obamacare; the other allows some public employees to avoid paying dues to the union representing them. In a 5-4 decision today the court sided with the Hobby Lobby crafts stores and Conestoga Wood, a cabinet making company, in a contraceptive case. Both companies claimed their Christian beliefs compel them not to cover certain kinds of contraception mandated under Obamacare. The court ruled that so-called “closely held” companies such as these qualify could for an exemption under the healthcare law if it violated the owners’ religious beliefs. In the other big ruling this morning, the Court decided that unions cannot force home care workers to pay their dues. Many labor supporters and court watchers referred to Harris v. Quinn as the session’s sleeper case -- seemingly a dry challenge over the right of unions to demand dues, but lying just below the surface are implications that could affect the future of electoral politics, immigration reform, hiking the minimum wage, and other issues of vital national importance.
Supreme Court Rules on Death Penalty The Supreme Court weighed-in on death penalty today, and its decision could result in fewer executions. The court ruled five-to-four that states cannot use rigid IQ test scores to determine whether or not a criminal is eligible for the death penalty. There are currently several states with rules that say anyone with an IQ score of 70 or above can be put to death. Today’s decision means states have to be more lenient about who qualifies as mentally disabled.
High Court Approves of Public Prayer Today, the US Supreme Court, in another five to four ruling, ruled that religious invocations do not violate the separation of church and state. The complaint of two women who sued the town Greece was rejected. David Savage covers the court for the Los Angeles Times .
Conservatives Fighting for Free Speech The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby case today. That’s the case that was brought by the owners of a Christian crafts corporation that don’t like the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires all employer-provided health insurance to cover contraceptives. But this is only one of several First Amendment cases brought by conservatives this year. In fact, David Savage, who reports on the Supreme Court for the LA Times, says there’s been a kind of role reversal at the court this term: First Amendment claims used to be brought by liberals.
The US Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage After this morning's hour and twenty minutes of legal arguments and judicial questioning, the US Supreme Court will probably take until June to rule on the issue of same-sex marriage . Gay marriage advocates have targeted California's Proposition 8, which banned such unions five years ago. The justices have a plateful of options to consider. Will they uphold Prop 8? Will they rule that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right? As public opinion has shifted, will a court majority leave the issue up to different voters in different states? We hear excerpts from both sides, learn what the justices wanted to know, get analysis and perhaps even a brave prediction or two.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Key Vote on the Supreme Court Before the end of this month, the US Supreme Court will decide if President Obama's healthcare reform violates the Constitution. Will liberals and conservatives split four-to-four and let Justice Anthony Kennedy make the call? Will public opinion, the court's role in politics and their own legacies influence how the justices make up their minds? Leaving issues like states' rights and the Commerce Clause until the decision comes down, we look at the justices themselves, their concerns about the law and their legacies and the Court's role in American politics.
The US Supreme Court, the Constitution and American Politics Before the end of this month, the US Supreme Court will decide whether President Obama's major achievement -- healthcare reform -- violates the Constitution. (We'll leave issues like states' rights and the Commerce Clause until the decision comes down.) Since the Court decided the presidential election of 2000 , more and more Americans think it's made up of political animals. We look at the justices themselves, their concerns about the law and their legacies and the court's role in American politics. Will conservatives and liberals divide four-to-four and leave it up to Anthony Kennedy ? Will Chief Justice John Roberts allow Kennedy to be " The Decider ?" Whatever its ruling might be, has "the third branch of government" ever been truly separate from politics?
The Supreme Court Takes Up Arizona's Immigration Law Arizona's notorious law targeting illegal immigrants goes under the legal microscope in the nation's highest court today. At issue is the power of the federal government over states' rights and whether the law encroaches on federal authority over immigration policy. Arizona sparked a huge national debate two years ago when it took immigration into its own hands, passing the controversial law known as SB 1070. Several other states followed suit with laws of their own, legal challenges were filed, and now four parts of the law are under consideration by the Supreme Court . How will this case affect similar laws in other states? What impact will a court ruling have in an election year? At a time when immigration from Mexico has fallen sharply, is there even a need for such laws?
The Affordable Care Act and America's Uninsured In the first of three days of arguments , the US Supreme Court made pretty clear today that it will rule on the constitutionality of President Obama's Affordable Care Act . Tomorrow, it will hear arguments on the so-called "Mandate" to buy insurance. In the meantime, we hear what it's like to go without health insurance, and arguments about the potential impact of what Republicans call "Obamacare."
SCOTUS Reviews Healthcare: Day One The US Supreme Court today began an almost unprecedented three days of hearings on President Obama's Affordable Care Act . Passed without a single Republican vote, so-called "Obamacare" is designed to bring America closer to universal health coverage. Who are the uninsured? What is it like to live without coverage? Employer-provided insurance is on the decline. How come? Would the Affordable Care Act (ACA) make things better or worse? We get the background as the court prepares to take on a case that could affect millions of people, including voters in an election year. (Special thanks to KCRW volunteer Gideon Brower for production assistance.)
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.