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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which mandates health insurance for individuals. If the Court strikes down the requirement to obtain health insurance, then the constitutionality of the entire Act will need to be examined.
The justices also agreed to decide if the Act’s expansion of Medicaid is an infringement on states’ rights. Lower courts have ruled both ways on this controversial political issue and it will be in the spotlight during reelection campaigning. A decision is expected to be handed down next June.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case involving important privacy issues surrounding police placement of GPS tracking devices on suspects’ vehicles without a search warrant. Opponents argue that such use of GPDS tracking devices violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. A lower appeals court had overturned the drug dealing conviction of Antoine Jones based on the warrantlesss use of a GPS device on his vehicle.
The justices expressed concerns that technology use would create a 1984 Orwellian scenario:
If you win this case, there is nothing preventing you from monitoring the movements of every citizen of the United States 24 hours a day,” said Justice Stephen Breyer.
“If you win, you produce something that sounds like ‘1984,’” a reference to the George Orwell novel.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor worried the surveillance could increase as technology improves.
Under the reasoning used by the government, she said, “it would be OK to take a computer chip and put it on somebody’s overcoat and follow them” without a warrant or “track people with smartphones.”
Ther defense attorney argued that allowing the evidence to be used in court would give police “the capacity to engage in a grave abuse of liberties.”
Leckar said the use of the tracking device was “an unreasonable invasion of privacy” and that police must obtain a warrant to avoid a constitutional violation.
“What is the difference between following somebody for 12 hours and monitoring someone using GPS for 12 hours?” asked Justice Samuel Alito.
Politico has reported that two women who worked at the National Restaurant Association where Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain was the CEO were paid settlements to quiet sexual harassment claims. Cain has admitted that he was accused of sexual harassment in the 1990s but insisted the allegations were without merit.
Conservative supporters of Cain are comparing the claims to Anita Hill’s claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. However, there was no documentary evidence to support Anita Hill’s claims like there appears to be in the womens’ settlement with Cain.
Mark Lindquist, a social worker in Joplin, Missouri, nearly died trying to rescue three developmentally disabled adults during the Joplin tornado that destroyed over 7,0000 homes. Linquist, 51, made little more than minimum wage at the group home where he worked and couldn’t afford health insurance.
After using his body to shield some of the patients, he was later found near death in the rubble. Doctors are astounded at his recovery, which comes after $2.5 million worth of medical expenses. However, his worker’s compensation claim was denied, on the basis that the risk he faced was no different than that to the general public. Legislators are calling for a review of his claim.
The Libyan dicator, Moammar Gadhafi, is reported to have been killed. He was considered the world’s most wanted man. Gadhafi had been on the run for weeks after being chased out of Tripoli by NATO bombers and rebel troops.
Officials in Libya’s transitional government said he was captured and possibly killed when revolutionary forces overthrew his hometown, Sirte. It’s still possible the Gadhafi supporters who escaped could still continue the fight and attempt to organize an insurgency using large cache of hidden weapons Gadhafi was believed to have hidden in the remote southern desert.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld Louisiana’s refusal to name two fathers as parents on a birth certificate. The child was adopted by an unmarried gay couple in New York. However, when the parents sought to amend the Louisiana birth certificate, the state of Louisiana refused to issue an amended birth certificate because the state only recognizes adoptions by married couples, regardless of sexual orienatation.
It was argued that the New York adoption should be recognized by Louisiana under the full faith and credit clause in the U.S. Constitution. The court disagreed, finding that the full faith and credit clause only applied to acts of state courts, not state offficals. In addition to Louisiana, 12 other states prohibit adoption by unmarried couples.
The U.S. Justice Department has declined to appeal its case involving the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s healthcare law to the U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit. The healthcare law includes a mandate that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty, which was found to be unconstitutional in August by a three-judge panel of the court.
By not appealing the case to the U.S. Appeals Court, the case is now on a faster track to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The healthcare law has been a controversial issue and it could be decided by the high court next summer, in the middle of Obama’s re-election campaign.
The U.S. military has decided to let gays openly serve in the armed forces. This is a break from the current policy, commonly known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” under which gays can serve as long as they don’t openly acknowledge their sexual orientation and their leaders are not allowed to ask.
All pending investigations, discharges and other administrative proceedings related to a service member’s homosexuality that were begun under the Clinton-era law will be halted. Service members who were discharged under the 18 year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law will be allowed to re-enlist, but will not be given priority over others with prior military experience who are also seeking to re-enlist.
President Obama has broken with tradition and selected primarily minorities and women to fill judicial positions. Over 70 percent of Obama’s confirmed judicial nominees were not the traditional white male usually selected for the position. This compares with much lower percentages of minorities and women selected by his predecessors-Bill Clinton (48.1 percent) and George W. Bush (32.9 percent).
Due to Obama, there are now three women sitting on the Supreme Court for the first time in history. Among these three women is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina confirmed to be on the Supreme Court. The Obama administration has also named the first openly gay male to a federal judgeship.