Supreme Court

SCOTUS Just Agreed to Rule on Abortion and Obamacare. Is Obama's Immigration Plan Next?

The Supreme Court's 2015-2016 takes shape.

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Credit: OZ in OH / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

The Supreme Court's 2015-2016 term is shaping up to be a big one. When the Court opened for business in early October, the docket already included major cases dealing with asset forfeiture and the Sixth Amendment, affirmative action in higher education, and the legal privileges afforded to public-sector unions. But in the last two weeks, the docket has expanded even further in size and scope.

First, on November 6, the Court consolidated seven cases that center on the Obama administration's scheme for accommodating religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, colleges, and charities, that object to providing their employees with certain forms of birth control under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This dispute represents the fourth time in five years that the Supreme Court will weigh in on the legal merits of Obamacare.

One week later, on November 13, the Court agreed to revisit the hot-button issue of abortion. Sometime in Spring 2016 the justices will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, a case that asks whether a pair of strict Texas requirements regulating abortion doctors and facilities actually serve a legitimate public health purpose, or whether those regulations instead amount to an undue burden that interferes with the exercise of constitutional rights. This case has the potential to be the biggest abortion decision since 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Court narrowly upheld 1973's Roe v. Wade.

But just in case those disputes aren't interesting enough for you, it now looks like the Supreme Court could also add immigration to the mix. As Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog, the Obama administration is expected to file a petition this week asking the Supreme Court to overturn last week's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which barred the federal government from implementing President Obama's controversial executive action on immigration, a program officially known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The underlying issue in this case, which is known as Texas v. United States, is whether the executive branch's implementation of DAPA runs afoul of the public notice-and-comment procedures required of all "substantive" administrative agency rules under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The White House maintains that its immigration action is merely a "policy statement" and is therefore exempt from normal federal rulemaking procedures and requirements. But the 5th Circuit took a different view. "At its core," the 5th Circuit wrote, "this case is about the [Obama administration's] decision to change the immigration classification of millions of illegal aliens on a class-wide basis. The states properly maintain that DAPA's grant of lawful presence and accompanying eligibility for benefits is a substantive rule that must go through notice and comment, before it imposes substantial costs on them, and that DAPA is substantively contrary to law."

In other words, by the time its current term comes to a close in late June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court may well hand down decisions on some of the biggest and most contentious issues in American politics, from affirmative action, unions, and criminal justice, to abortion, Obamacare, and immigration. Stay tuned.

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  1. The White House maintains that its immigration action is merely a “policy statement” and is therefore exempt from normal federal rulemaking procedures and requirements

    If your statement consists of new rules….fuck it, why even try.

  2. First, on November 6, the Court consolidated seven cases that center on the Obama administration’s scheme for accommodating religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, colleges, and charities, that object to providing their employees with certain forms of birth control under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

    It sure would be nice if the SCOTUS would rule on the broader aspects of the plan itself, like whether or not the Federal Government can enact any plan of this type under Enumerated Powers, instead of just stoking the flames of KultureKampf.

  3. Predictions:

    Abortion – they will fiddle around the edges, but cannot bring themselves to say “admin and red tape can burden rights!”

    Affirmative Action – How many years left of that 25 that Sandra Day O’Connor said we had left?

    O!Care – We meant it last time, knock it off….but of course, the entire rest of the law stands!

    Executive Rule Fiat – “go back and follow the procedure”, which will end this round. Of course, they won’t be able to say “Rulemaking” is contrary to the Constitution, oh no.

    Asset forfeiture and any criminal cases – Prepare ye for disappointment.

    Pub Sec unions – a slightly greater than not chance they will actually trim back their extortionate ways.

    Unlike shriek, if wrong, I will freely admit it.

    1. Abortion – they will fiddle around the edges, but cannot bring themselves to say “admin and red tape can burden rights!”

      Fiddling around the edges IS admin and red tape.

    2. Affirmative Action – How many years left of that 25 that Sandra Day O’Connor said we had left?

      At least 50 years left. The US is more racist than ever – and that’s especially true on college campuses. Gotta keep fighting white privilege by giving spots to African American students that otherwise would have gone to Asian American students (while continuing to admit the truly privileged, well connected white kids anyway).

  4. I have lost respect for the court. The constitution, rule of law, means nothing to them. They are there to protect the interests of the political class and occasionally throw a bone to the rest of us.

    1. The Supreme Court is the KING of America.

      Think of it, congress is dead-locked and the President leans one way or another and still can’t get things through.

      All the President can do is VETO. But the SCOTUS is the Final say as our current situation will never get an amendment passed (let alone a law).

  5. This dispute represents the fourth time in five years that the Supreme Court will weigh in on the legal merits of Obamacare.

    My prediction: Obamacare has merit and is constitutional because FYTW. The religious organizations will have to provide the birth control “stuff” that they object to.

  6. Given a choice between fiscal conservative/social conservative and fiscal liberal/social conservative I’d pick Hilary.

    I’d love to have a fiscal moderate/social liberal, but it’s not up for vote.

    1. Given a choice between fiscal conservative/social conservative and fiscal liberal/social conservative I’d pick Hilary.

      This reads like, ‘Given the choice between owning a car and an invisible pink unicorn I’d choose to be hit by a bus.’ to me.

      And, No! Fuck You, Cut Spending.

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