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separation of powers

Lawsuit Challenging Alaska's Medicaid Expansion Must Prove Irreparable Harm

Now that lawmakers in Alaska have voted to sue to try to block that state's expansion of Medicaid to 40,000 low-income adults, they will have to show irreparable harm will result if a preliminary injunction isn't granted against the expansion, APRN-Anchorage's Annie Feidt reports.

Legislators are arguing that the expansion needs to have their approval, that the population that would be covered by the expansion is not a mandatory group that must get health insurance coverage, and Gov. Bill Walker violated separation of powers by unilaterally authorizing the expansion.

The Associated Press' Becky Bohrer reports that the expansion would be for "people ages 19 to 64 who are not caring for dependent children, not disabled and not pregnant, and who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level."


Kansas Law Could Strip Courts of Funding

Kansas has enacted a law that would strip the state courts of their funding if that state's Supreme Court rules against a separate law that removed some of its powers, The New York Times' John Eligon reports.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed a courts budget tying funding to a law that took the authority to appoint district court judges from the Supreme Court to the district courts themselves. The measure was promoted by the Kansas Legislature's conservatives.

Richard E. Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas, told Eligon the measures in the judiciary budget bill would be like Congress "passing a law outlawing abortion and then telling the judicial branch that it will lose its funding if it finds the law unconstitutional."

Supreme Court Ruling Gives Bankruptcy Judges More Power

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bankruptcy judges can decide issues that would normally be handled by federal district judges--if the parties involved consent, Supreme Court Brief's Marcia Coyle reports. The consent can be implied.

Sotomayor opined that it doesn't violate the separation of powers to allow bankruptcy courts, which are created by Congress under Article I of the Constitution, to decide claims submitted to them by consent so long as there is supervision by Article III courts, which are the judicial branch of the federal government as defined by Article III of the Constitution. 

The Eight Big U.S. Supreme Court Cases Left This Term

The U.S. Supreme Court will wrap up its term a week from today, and there are several major cases left to be decided, USA Today reports. A couple highlights of issues to be decided: 

One, what is the scope of the presidential power to make appointments when the Senate is in recess?

Two, can the Environmental Protection Agency change the threshold for greenhouse gas emissions?

Three, can shareholders alleging securities fraud rely on the assumption that stock price reflects all available information instead of having to prove specifically that fraud affected stock prices? 

Supreme Court Will Rule on Cases About Federal Power

The U.S. Supreme Court has 25 pending cases to decide before recessing for the summer, including a case on the president's power to appoint officials during Congressional pro forma recesses, The New American's Joe Wolverton II reports. The D.C. Circuit held that recess appointments violate the constitutional requirement that officials be appointed with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, but Attorney General Eric Holder argues that the Senate was unavailable to receive communications from the president when engaged in pro forma sessions in which no real action was being taken by senators. Wolverton, writing from a conservative point of view, argues that the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton thought the Constitution required that cooperation of the Senate and that recess appointments were only meant to be temporary.

Alabama Chief Justice Seeking Same-Sex Marriage Opposition from Every Governor

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore mailed letters this week to all 50 governors asking them to urge their legislatures to call for a national convention on amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports. The chief justice also is "known on the national stage for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in a judicial building," the AP reports. Moore told the AP it's the only way to "stop judges who are finding new rights to gay unions." Moore also said he was upholding Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage.

An Article V convention has never been held.

Ruling Rejecting Recess Appointment Could Upend Hundreds of Labor Disputes

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on whether it is constitutional for the president to make appointments during legislative recesses will not only have a big impact on the separation of powers. A decision rejecting recess appointments will upend hundreds of labor disputes decided by the National Labor Relations Board, The Washington Post reports. '“Regardless of whether you’re in the business community or organized labor, you want to know that the agency is operating with legal authority,' said Steven Bernstein, a labor lawyer who represents employers. 'You want to get it right the first time and make the results stick so you don’t face the possibility of waking up and doing it all over again,'" The Post further reports.

U.S. Supreme Court's Workload Might Reach New Low

The U.S. Supreme Court's workload might reach a new low because the court will consider only half the usual number of cases when it convenes in March, The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. Yet the issues the court will consider are central to American society- whether corporations are entitled to religious expression, affirmative action and separation of powers between the presidency and Congress over the appointment of governmental officials, Barnes writes. “The court has had several cases implicating major issues of national debate each of the last few years. What that shows is that this is a court that’s not at all shy about tackling hot-button issues,” Supreme Court litigator Kannon Shanmugam told Barnes.

Case To Test If George Washington Violated Constitution

Whether history and what the Founding Fathers thought about things controls how we interpret the American Constitution is going to get another ride in the U.S. Supreme Court in the upcoming term. USA Today reports on the historical issues implicated in the case in which the justices will decide the constitutionality of the president making appointments during Congressional recesses: "For two centuries, presidents have found ways to get around Congress in order to fill important positions in their administrations. Now the Supreme Court is set to decide if what's common is constitutional. Sound backwards? Perhaps. When it comes to the law, however, history isn't always the best guide. Take prayer: When the justices in November debated the practice of opening government meetings with an invocation, which dates back to the framers of the Constitution, they were forced to consider whether that tradition trumps the separation of church and state. Or marriage: Presented last year with a modern interpretation of a male-female institution that Chief Justice John Roberts noted 'has been around since time immemorial,' the justices had a tough time justifying the exclusion of gays and lesbians. Now comes an epic balance-of-powers battle between the executive and legislative branches that only the judicial branch can resolve. On Monday, what's been billed as the marquee case of the high court's 2013 term will give the justices a chance to decide if George Washington and many of his successors violated the Constitution they swore to uphold."

First South-Asian American Becomes Federal Appellate Judge

When Sri Srinivasan was sworn in as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Thursday, he became the first South-Asian American to sit as a federal appellate judge, the Washington Post reports. He may even become a future U.S. Supreme Court nominee: he "joins a court that is often referred to as the nation’s second-highest court because of its rulings on regulatory and separation-of-powers issues. In addition, four of the Supreme Court’s nine justices served on the D.C. Circuit," the Washington Post also reported.

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