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May 2014 Archives

What's at Stake in King v. Sibelius? Obamacare (Again)

It's not a matter of mandates versus taxes. Nor is it a religious challenge. This time, it's about Obamacare/Affordable Care Act subsidies, the ones that make healthcare affordable to low-income individuals.

We've noted the general premise of these lawsuits repeatedly: the text of the statute appears to support the notion that unless a state forms its own healthcare exchange, no subsidies were supposed to be available. The IRS took a different view and reinterpreted the statute, making subsidies available to everyone, regardless of whether the person used a federal or state exchange.

The stakes are high: no subsidy, no insurance purchases. No purchases, no mandates, per the terms of the statute. No mandates and no demand, no Obamacare.

McDonnells' Motions Fail: Charges Stand, Joint Trial Set for July 28

Robert "Bob" McDonnell, the embattled former Virginia governor, and his wife and co-defendant Maureen McDonnell, made an appearance in court yesterday, seeking to dismiss the case against them, and failing that, to sever their trial.

Both requests were denied, however, and the couple's joint trial is scheduled to proceed on July 28, reports NPR.

5 Notes From the Oral Arguments in Virginia's Gay Marriage Appeal

Though the Tenth Circuit got there first, yesterday's Fourth Circuit oral arguments in Virginia's gay marriage ban appeal were highly anticipated. The Tenth is handing appeals from Utah and Oklahoma, while the Fourth Circuit is debating Virginia's ban. If a split emerges between these circuits, or the other circuits with same-sex marriage appeals, a Supreme Court showdown could be (okay, almost certainly is) on the horizon.

How did the arguments go? If the judges' comments were any indication, the court is like the rest of this country: confused and conflicted.

That Was Quick: Pamela Harris Nominated for 4th Cir. Vacancy

Judge Andre Davis took senior status barely two months ago, yet there's already a nominee for his seat, the only vacancy in the Fourth Circuit. Compare that expediency with the nine years it took to fill the seat last time.

Who's the nominee? Meet Georgetown Law visiting professor and former O'Melveny & Myers appellate attorney Pamela Harris. Her nomination for the Maryland-assigned seat was announced late Thursday by the White House and drew immediate praise from local politicians.

Others may not be quite so happy.

Two 4th Circuit Judges Heard Cases Despite Conflicts

Conflicts and recusals. We've given the High Court's justices a hard time over botched recusals, excessive recusals, and even for un-recusals, but what about judges in the lower courts?

Federal judges are required to recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest, often due to stock ownership in a company that is a party to the case, and they're even granted a tax break if they sell the stock to remove the conflict. Courts have adopted conflict screening systems to make sure mandated recusals actually happen.

Yet sometimes, a case or a stock slips through the cracks. How? And just as important, how many?