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In 2005, Harry Barko, an employee of government contractor Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), filed a False Claims Act complaint. KBR, which at the time was a subsidiary of Halliburton, provided military support services in Iraq. Barko alleged that KBR was inflating costs and receiving kickbacks.

This case, for which Barko filed a cert. petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, isn't even about all that yet. This is a case about the limits of attorney-client privilege.

As we noted last month, Washington, D.C.'s voter-approved recreational marijuana law is subject to a veto by Congress, which has the last word in administration over the District. Well, it looks like Congress is going to severely harsh people's mellows.

Buried in a 2015 appropriations bill -- on pages 213 to 214, to be exact -- is a paragraph noting that "none of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used" by any of the states or jurisdictions that legalize marijuana in any form to implement those laws. (We should note that the text of this bill only seems to affect "medical marijuana," but an appropriations committee flyer suggests that forthcoming legislation will apply to any kind of marijuana.)

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases, consolidated into one argument, on the issue of EPA regulation of electric utilities. Michigan v. EPA, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, and National Mining Association v. EPA all seek to address whether it was unreasonable for the EPA to refuse to consider cost when determining whether to regulate air pollutants emitted by electric utilities under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act.

The cases have nationwide importance, as indicated by the gazillions of states that are petitioners and respondents in this case.

Even though the District of Columbia overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana earlier this month, Washington, D.C. is no normal place, as its residents know all too well. Though the District does have a city council, acts of the council are subject to approval by Congress, with whom the buck stops when it comes to governing D.C.

So the question remains: Will a Congress that still considers marijuana as deadly as heroin be amenable to approving it for recreational use?

Because the D.C. Circuit is the go-to circuit for questions involving the powers of the branches of government, the cases that come from this circuit, predictably, involve government authority.

So far this term, the Supreme Court has found at least one extremely polemical issue among other more prosaic questions of agency authority.

The D.C. Circuit Court has been quiet this week, but an opinion from the D.C. District Court is set to create a rumbling that no amount of Tums can abate.

In Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 struck down limitations on campaign spending by corporations. That same year in SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the D.C. Circuit expanded that to include spending by PACs not affiliated with candidates. In this last term, McCutcheon v. FEC expanded the flip side of Citizens United by striking down limitations on aggregate contributions to candidates and PACs.

Steel yourself for the next exciting episode. The Republican and Libertarian Parties asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to strike down limitations on contributions to their parties' non-coordinated campaign funds. In an opinion issued Tuesday, the court agreed that there was something there worth adjudicating.

To what degree must federal agencies consider alternatives when building energy infrastructure? A little bit, said the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday in Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety v. FERC. Just because an agency considered an alternative, however, doesn't mean it's obligated to use the alternative.

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approved construction by Millennium Pipeline Company of a natural gas compressor station in Minisink, New York -- a tiny town of 4,490 people about a two hours' drive from New York City. Several Minisink residents weren't too keen about a compressor station and advanced another proposal called the "Wagoner Alternative," which involved building a smaller station seven miles outside of Minisink. The proponents of the Wagoner Alternative claimed it would be better suited to the project than placing the station in the largely residential Minisink. The alternative, however, would require replacing seven miles of pipe -- something the original plan didn't.

The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius wasn't the last challenge to the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"); oh, no, not by a long shot. As you'll recall, Chief Justice John Roberts decided that, while the ACA's individual mandate and accompanying penalty wasn't a valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause authority, it was permissible as a tax.

Enter Timothy Sandefur, who represented the petitioner in Sissel v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. He made the too-clever-by-half contention that, if the ACA is a tax, then it should have originated in the House of Representatives, as the Constitution requires of all spending bills. Because it originated in the Senate, the law is unconstitutional.

Nice try, but the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't having it.

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We teased the premise of the Obamacare subsides lawsuits back in October on our U.S. Supreme Court blog, but since then, one of the cases has proceeded all the way through oral arguments at the D.C. Circuit.

Last week, while the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments in the contraception mandate lawsuit, the D.C. Circuit was hearing its own oral arguments in Halbig v. Sebelius (the subsidy dispute), with two of the three judges appearing to be inclined to side against the IRS and Obamacare.

Should the subsidies collapse, not only would that kill demand for insurance on the exchanges, but it would also wipe out the employer mandate, which is triggered by at least one employee receiving a subsidy on the marketplace.

FERC Loses BNP Paribas Appeals Case in D.C. Cir.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may need to reconsider its regulations regarding who pays for natural gas storage after the court ruled against it in BNP Paribas Energy Trading GP v. FERC.

It was disputed by BNP Paribas that FERC incorrectly assigned costs for natural gas storage. However, the judicial panel held that FERC failed to show any relevant changes to their historic, proportional-to-usage payment plan.

So how should fees be calculated?