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This Week in Oral Arguments: Bin Laden's Publicist, Birthers, More

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 02, 2013 3:48 PM

While the D.C. Circuit may be withholding any sort of published opinion from us all -- was it something we said? -- oral arguments are going off without a hitch.

As September wraps up and October begins, we take a look at three cases in oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit: a birther defamation suit, a Medicare adjustment case, and the conviction of Bin Laden's publicist.

These oral arguments may be setting the stage for a momentous 2013 - 2014 session.

Birther Author Sues Esquire Magazine

After trying their luck and failing to oust President Obama -- or as he's known to birthers, President Barack Hussein Obama -- those who believe President Obama was not born in the U.S. are turning on the news media.

In this instance, Jerome Corsi and Joseph Farah, the CEO of WorldNetDaily.com (WND) and WND Books, sued Esquire over a little prank that the magazine pulled, allegedly to demonstrate a point in satire over Corsi's newest book.

The book, entitled Where's the Birth Certificate? was lambasted in a satirical piece written by Esquire which was titled Breaking: Jerome Corsi's Birther Book Pulled from Shelves? The fallout from the article included some of the books actually being pulled from bookstore shelves, and the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments in Farah on Thursday about whether this literally questionable article amounts to defamation or false light.

Bin Laden's Publicist Criminal Appeal

On Monday, the circuit heard arguments in Ahmad al Bahlul v. USA, a criminal appeal by the man widely known as Osama bin Laden's publicist.

The D.C. Circuit agreed to take this case for en banc review back in April, to decide the issue of whether Bahlul's military tribunal conviction was appropriate given a certain definition of war crime. This tactic worked well enough for bin Laden's driver, whose conviction was overturned in 2012.

According to Reuters, judges hearing the case Monday seemed skeptical of the government's position that "conspiracy" charges could be construed so broadly, but this case may have greater repercussions for other detainees.

Medicare Payment Rates Appeal

In another case before the court, Adirondack Medical Center v. Sebelius, the court will hear arguments about whether the Health and Human Services Secretary has the authority to decrease the amount paid to rural hospitals from Medicare.

In a sad state of affairs, the Secretary has reduced payments to certain rural hospitals in order to offset a general increase in payments from Medicare to all hospitals, and the D.C. District court affirmed this move as within the Secretary's power.

Unlike when federal courts have struck down state restrictions on federal Medicare payments, the lower court stated that in absence of congressional mandate, the Secretary's judgment to balance the Medicare budget is not in excess of her grant of power.

Perhaps the D.C. Circuit can be convinced otherwise when they hear arguments in this case on Thursday.

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