Last year, the legal world was swept up in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) debate. Was the individual mandate constitutional? Was it a penalty or a tax? For months, it was the topic that everyone wanted to discuss.
In 2013, we expect the ACA to remain a hot topic in the legal community, though it's unlikely to capture the same level of media attention as the individual mandate case. The ACA birth control mandate became effective on January 1, and non-exempt employers like religious colleges and family-owned companies are asking federal appellate courts to find that the mandate violates their Free Exercise rights. Even if the contraceptive coverage issues are resolved in 2013, we expect even more litigation in 2014, when the bulk of the ACA becomes effective.
Healthcare, however, will not be the only topic in the courts in 2013. Here are five more trending legal topics that lawyers and consumers alike will be discussing in 2013.
- Same Sex Marriage. In March, the Supreme Court will consider challenges to California's Proposition 8, (an amendment to the state constitution which bans gay marriage) and the Defense of Marriage Act, (a federal statute limiting the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples for the purpose of federal benefits). Twenty-nine states have constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage, so the Court's decisions could have broad implications.
- Gun Control. Lawmakers will respond to the gun-related tragedies in Aurora, Colorado and Newton, Connecticut with new gun control laws, and citizens and interest groups will respond to new gun control laws with lawsuits.
- Immigration. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down most of the challenged sections in SB 1070 -- the controversial Arizona immigration law -- but the Court upheld the so-called "show me your papers" provision. The likely result is two-fold: More states will adopt similar laws, and people stopped under such laws will argue that they are the victims of racial profiling.
- Affirmative Action. The Supreme Court heard arguments last year in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case which could alter the future of affirmative action in public universities. The Court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.
- Family Law. America's collective obsession with celebrities' personal lives has created a greater awareness of legal issues associated with marriage, divorce, and custody issues. Last year, readers flocked to FindLaw to learn about celebrities' international child custody disputes, quickie divorces, and prenuptial agreements. It may seem silly, but we expect even more interest in family law topics this year due to the news that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting a baby together. The couple's situation presents a number of unique legal issues in light of West's lyrical predisposition to prenups and Kardashian's not-yet-finalized divorce.
Regardless of whether you're interested in a trending legal topics or a less-talked-about issue, FindLaw.com will remain an invaluable resource to help you learn about the legal issues that matter to you in 2013.
-- Kevin Ahlvin, Director, Business Marketing
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team