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Supreme Court Meeting Friday on Same-Sex Marriage

This week is bringing a tremendous confluence of events regarding same-sex marriage, the Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports: the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to consider on Friday whether to take up the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage, same-sex marriages started in Florida today, and the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will consider cases regarding the bans on same-sex marriage in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana on Friday.

Neighboring States Take Colorado's Pot Law to Supreme Court

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf, writing in a column in Justia, notes how Nebraska and Oklahoma, two of Colorado's neighboring states, are challenging Colorado's law legalizing marijuana in the U.S. Supreme Court. The basis for the Supreme Court's jurisdiction is the part of the federal constitution covering cases in "which a state shall be a party," Dorf notes.

Nebraska and Oklahoma's attorneys general argue that Colorado's pot legalization undermines their ability to "maintain their own prohibitions of marijuana because Colorado takes inadequate measures to prevent legal intrastate marijuana from crossing state borders, where it enters the illegal market." They also argue that Colorado's law violates the federal Controlled Substances Act. But Dorf finds a hole in the two states' argument about the CSA, reasoning that there is no federal preemption of states choosing not to criminalize marijuana.

Instead, he suggests that Nebraska and Oklahoma should sue the federal government for failing to enforce the CSA against third parties.

Plaintiff Still Missing in Supreme Court Case

A pro se plaintiff who got the U.S. Supreme Court to take his case over the razing of his property in Baltimore still can't be found, the Associated Press' Jessica Gresko reports. Bobby Chen has missed the December 22 deadline to mail his main legal brief. At issue in Chen's case is whether he was properly given an extension to notify the people he was suing that he had filed his lawsuit. Lawyers familiar with the case said that the Supreme Court "could dismiss the case. It could appoint a lawyer for Chen. And it could do nothing for now or mount a more extensive search for him."

The 5 Cases That Could Be the Supreme Court's Vehicle to Taking on the NSA

Cyrus Farivar, writing for Ars Technica, features five cases that the U.S. Supreme Court could grant certiorari in and take on privacy and surveillance issues involving the National Security Agency: Klayman v. Obama, First Unitarian Church v. National Security Agency, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) v. Clapper, United States v. Moalin, and United States v. Muhtorov. Farivar notes the Supreme Court held in United States v. Jones that law enforcement doesn't have the authority to use GPS tracking without a warrant and held in Riley v. California that law enforcement can't search a person's phone without a warrant, reflecting "an awareness that modern tech has changed reasonable privacy."

Medicaid Rolls Grow, Payments to Doctors Drop and Access to Care Wobbles

The New York Times' Robert Pear reports that, even as the rolls of people getting healthcare coverage through Medicaid are swelling, Medicaid reimbursements for primary care will be cut by 43 percent, on average. Why? Some healthcare providers will not take Medicaid patients at the lower rates. Moreover, the extension of higher Medicaid payments faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress. 

Separately, there is a case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Obama administration has taken the position that healthcare providers have no right to enforce a requirement that Medicaid rates must be sufficient to "'enlist enough providers' so that beneficiaries have at least as much access to care as the general population in their geographic area," Pear further reports.


Wisconsin Court Upholds Forcible Drunk-Driving Blood Sampling

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of drunk-driving defendants based on blood samples taken by force, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bruce Vielmetti reports. The court held in two cases that police relied in good faith on the law in place at the the time, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police must get warrants to draw blood in most cases. In a third case, the Wisconsin justices found that a coerced blood draw met an exception for exigent circumstances set out in the U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Missouri v. McNeely.

Same-Sex Marriage Case Ready for Supreme Court Review January 9

SCOTUSBlog's Lyle Denniston reports that the justices will take up a new round of same-sex marriage cases at their conference January 9: "At issue in the Sixth Circuit cases is a ruling by the appeals court for that region, upholding all of the bans on same-sex marriage licensing or recognition in the four states. At issue in the Louisiana case is a decision by a federal trial judge in New Orleans upholding that state’s ban on licensing and recognition."

Is the Supreme Court Ready to Take On Same-Sex Marriage?

The Washington Post's Supreme Court beat reporter Robert Barnes says that the regular pattern for the justices is to take a case before the end of January in order to set render a decision by the end of the term in June. While the court declined to take up the issue of same-sex marriage last fall, this time there is a split between circuit court of appeals on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional or not. Barnes notes a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit "upheld marriage bans in Michigan and Kentucky, and recognition bans in Ohio and Tennessee."


The Supreme Court's Missing Pro Se Plaintiff

Maybe Mr. Chen won't go to Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted the case of a man representing himself in his battle with the city of Baltimore over a rowhouse that has now been torn down, The Wall Street Journal's Brent Kendall and Colleen Wilson report. But Bobby Chen is missing and can't be found at his last known address. His email account is no longer functioning.

While Chen can't be found and his brief is due just in a few days, lawyers for the city of Baltimore are preparing their defense just in case, the WSJ reports.

At issue in the case is not "the demolition issue but to provide clarity on when judges have discretion to give litigants more time. ... Chen said he encountered delays and difficulty in serving legal papers on Baltimore officials. One judge gave him a time extension, but the case was transferred to another who dismissed the suit because ... Chen missed a deadline."

#SCOTUS Rejects New Trial After Juror's Comments

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that federal evidentiary rules bar the use of statements made during jury deliberations, so a South Dakota man can't get a new personal injury trial over his motorcycle accident because of comments made by the jury forewoman during deliberations, the Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. The forewoman allegedly said that her daughter had been at fault in a fatal accident and would have had her life ruined if she had been sued. The plaintiff alleged that the juror lied about her impartiality.


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