Most of the legal world this week has been talking about King v. Burwell, a case from the D.C. Circuit which the Supreme Court announced last Friday it would take up. There are three potential companion cases, one of which is happening right here in Indiana. Strap in for a long ride. Continue reading What the ACA challenge means to Hoosiers
I took an early weekend, so I have a couple of things to catch up on. Most legally important news happens before Friday, but things do still happen. I might make it a regular habit to dump the stuff that slips through the cracks over the weekend on Monday morning.
First, same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs aren’t going to be given a lot of time in the Indiana/Wisconsin consolidated case to make their arguments. Meanwhile, a county clerk in Virginia is filing for cert with the Supreme Court on the marriage ban there.
With the Seventh Circuit case moving so quickly, it seems likely that the issue of same-sex marriage is going to be decided once and for all during the next Supreme Court term.
Next, health care. The issue of health subsidies for states using the federal exchange is also being pushed forward as fast as possible. Nothing new here, but I expect the Court to take this up right away, as well.
Looking ahead. Nothing much on the SCOTUS front, as the new term doesn’t start until the very end of September. The Indiana Supreme Court starts hearing cases again just after Labor day.
However, there will be some interesting legal topics in the news this week. Definitely pay attention to the Toledo water crisis. As of this writing, the water was officially down to safe toxin levels(!), but mayor Collins wasn’t ready to lift the advisory on account of two “too close for comfort” results. We’re going to be talking a lot about the cause of the algal bloom, which is almost certainly directly related to farm fertilizer runoff (thanks to a heavy rain season). I suspect the end result on the legal front will be either 1) Ohio enacting new regulations and farmers suing or 2) Ohio not enacting many new regulations and environmental groups suing (or 3) both).
There is also one execution to watch for this week. There were three scheduled, but two have already been stayed. Michael Worthington is set to die Wednesday in Missouri. Worthington broke into his neighbor’s house while drunk and high, strangled her unconscious, raped her, and then beat her and strangled her to death when she woke up and tried to fight him off. Interestingly, he was sentenced to death despite pleading guilty, which is not something you see every day. After Joseph Wood appeared to suffer tremendously in a prolonged death in Arizona last month, all eyes will be on Missouri. I don’t think either the public or the Supreme Court has the political desire to ban executions outright, but if states prove that they are unable to kill people without torturing them (whether or not you blame it on the European Union), that sentiment might begin to shift in both cases.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the language of the Affordable Care Act clearly states the IRS may only allow tax credits for those who sign up for “state-run” exchanges. In other words, if you are unlucky enough to live in one of the thirty-six states who decided to let the federal government run the exchange for them, you won’t be eligible for the tax subsidies. It also means, however, that you are less likely to be penalized for not being insured.
Just two hours later, however, the Fourth Circuit issued a contradictory ruling, virtually guaranteeing that this will eventually make it to the Supreme Court.
Indiana is one of those unlucky thirty-six. Under the D.C. ruling, then, Hoosiers would not be eligible for any subsidies. However, it will likely take a while for that to be determined. The ruling came from a three-judge panel, and the federal government has the opportunity to ask for an en banc review from the entire D.C. Court of Appeals before requesting review from the Supreme Court.
The wording of the D.C. panel’s order seems to suggest that our tax returns will be affected this very year. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling only controls Maryland, both Virginias and both Carolinas. We’ll have to see how the administration and IRS respond, but Hoosiers would be smart to keep an eye on this.