Obamacare Tops Hot-Button Issues Soon Before Supreme Court
The Supreme Court will tackle a laundry list of high-profile cases during the first six months of the new year, including decisions on Obamacare and other hot-button topics that could pose big challenges for both liberal and conservative interests.
The looming decision on Obamacare tops the list of controversial agenda items, reports the National Journal, but justices are also considering decisions on matters, including political fundraising limits, free speech, and religious freedom that will all have a high impact this coming year.
The Obamacare oral arguments will begin March 4 in a lawsuit that could cripple the healthcare law and its subsidies.
Challengers hope the court will outlaw premium subsidies for states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges. As most states use the federal exchange, rather than their own, that means 80 percent of the people who have enrolled in lower-cost health insurance plans and receive subsidies to help pay for their policies could lose those payments.
Obamacare supporters are worried about the case as justices took it up earlier than expected, rather than waiting for a lower court to make a decision on the matter.
Meanwhile, the court has not said if it will act on appeals in same-sex marriage cases, reports the Journal.
Justices will meet behind closed doors Jan. 9 to discuss the upcoming year’s case schedule, and several states’ marriage laws are being challenged.
The court did make landmark rulings to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which paved the way to allow gay marriages in states, but fell short of mandating that they be allowed.
A federal Appeals Court upheld same-sex marriage in some states, but another upheld bans on same-sex marriages in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan, leaving the issue divided on the appellate level.
The court will likely also make several decision involving religious liberty, following the Hobby Lobby decision that struck down a mandate included in Obamacare provisions requiring contraception to be part of insurance coverage. The ruling, which was hailed by conservatives, allows privately held companies with religious objections to opt out of Obamacare’s contraception coverage mandate.
In another freedom of religion case, oral arguments have already been held for an Arkansas inmate who wants to grow a beard in accordance with his Muslim faith, and has agreed to hear a similar case involving a Muslim woman who was denied a job at Abercrombie & Fitch because of the head scarf she wears.
The court will also has three freedom of speech cases, including one on the campaign finance law.
Oral arguments have also already been heard in a case concerning social networks and what could be construed as threatening messages. The case involves a man who threatened, through Facebook messages, to kill his ex-wife, and will determine if such messages meet the legal standard for a threat.
In another case, the court will hear arguments on a Florida law prohibiting judicial candidates from personally seeking contributions, rather than setting up a fundraising committee. Critics say a ruling against the Florida law could have broad national implications.
And last, the Confederate flag is once again a court issue, reports the Journal, after Texas officials rejected a license plate idea with the flag on it from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
A lower court ruled against the state and its argument that the plate design would create “expressions of hate.”