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There's a reason doctors advise pregnant women to avoid eating fish -- there's a high risk that they are contaminated by mercury, a powerful neurotoxin to which pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable. 

How do fish end up full of mercury? Most commonly, fish are exposed to air pollution released by coal burning power plants, the largest source of mercury pollution. Mercury exposure has been linked to respiratory disease, birth defects, and developmental problems in children.

In 2011, the EPA released new regulations under the Clean Air Act in order to stem mercury pollution and other air toxins by requiring pollution controls on coal-burning power plants. The Supreme Court struck those regulations down yesterday, saying that the EPA had failed to look closely enough at the costs of the pollution controls before limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants.

The Affordable Care Act allows the federal government to provide subsidies to poor and middle-class people purchasing insurance on the federal exchange, the Supreme Court ruled in King v. Burwell today. Opponents to Obamacare had claimed that federal subsidies were, based on the language of the Act, limited to plans purchased on exchanges individual states set up themselves, not those obtained through

The exact language of the Act must yield to its overall intent, the Court decided in its 6-3 decision. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority that, "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them."

The Supreme Court released only one opinion this Monday, but it's a significant one. In Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Court held 6-3 that the President does not need to follow a law requiring the State Department to label, on passports, that American children born in Jerusalem were born in Israel.

That seems like a minor issue, but it has significant implications, beyond even the conflict between Israel and Palestine over who controls the Holy City. With Zivotosfsky, the Court affirmed that the President has exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns, even over congressional objections.

Some Opinions We Missed, and a Fond Farewell

Last week, amid lofty opinions about excessive force and the dormant commerce clause, we did not have a chance to report on some of the more work-a-day cases the Supreme Court decided.

These decisions -- all of which were unanimous -- don't implicate constitutional principles necessarily, and aren't as contentious as some of the Court's other cases, but hey, they're important, too.

Two New Opinions: Excessive Force and Dormant Commerce Clause

Last week, we asked for opinions from the Supreme Court and we got them -- six of them, in fact -- which may portend more multi-opinion days in the weeks to come.

Today's opinions were fairly prosaic (by which we mean "bankruptcy"), but a few stood out as fairly important.

What We Expect From the Supreme Court Next Week

The Supreme Court has been quiet since May 4, when it issued a fairly prosaic opinion in Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, concluding that an order denying a proposed bankruptcy repayment plan isn't a final, appealable order.

Monday, the Court will be in session, but it won't be entertaining oral arguments. Instead, it will probably announce new opinions and new cert. grants (or denials) for cases to be heard next term. Here's what we think is in store.

3 Cases to Watch for the Supreme Court's Next Term

The Supreme Court's October 2014 term is winding down. There will be no more oral arguments before the Court goes on summer vacation at the end of June, though there is still plenty of controversy as 35 cases are as-yet undecided. Among these are same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and Confederate license plates.

It's never too late to think about the next term, though. The Court has already granted cert. to several cases that it will hear when it reconvenes this October. Here are some highlights.

SCOTUS Takes Electricity Regulation Case

In the waning month or two left in the Court's October 2014 term, it issued an order granting cert. in a consolidated case that stands to impact electricity regulation nationwide.

The case was brought by the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group representing several electric companies and regional electricity supply associations throughout the country.

5 Surprisingly Undecided Cases from This Term

With the arrival of May comes the disheartening realization that there are going to be no more oral arguments for the October 2014 Term. For the next two months, the justices and their clerks will spend each day busily writing opinions in the 36 outstanding cases from this term.

Going through the list, we were kind of shocked to learn which high-profile cases hadn't been decided yet. Obviously, opinions from March and April cases haven't arrived, but what about these guys, which are still out there past the average 92-day decision period for cases this term?

Glossip v. Gross Oral Arguments: How Painful Is 'Painful'?

They're just gluttons for punishment, aren't they? After two and a half hours of arguments yesterday on the topic of same-sex marriage, the justices today opted for some lighter fare: the death penalty.

Richard Glossip, along with two other Oklahoma inmates, contends that the three-drug cocktail that state uses for lethal injections violates the Eighth Amendment.