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5th Cir. Preview of 3 Huge Cases: Obamacare, Abortion, Gay Marriage

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By William Peacock, Esq. on November 04, 2014 3:06 PM

Every circuit gets its 15 minutes of fame. The Tenth Circuit drew a lot of attention this year for being the first to rule on marriage equality. The Fourth and D.C. Circuits battled for headlines by releasing conflicting Obamacare subsidy opinions on the same day. And everyone is waiting on the Sixth Circuit, which could be the first to rule against gay marriage, which would likely lead to a Supreme Court showdown on the issue.

The next few months, however, will belong to the Fifth Circuit. On December 2, a panel will hear a challenge to Obamacare based on the origination clause. And in early January, the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments in consolidated gay marriage cases out of Louisiana and Texas, as well as a full review of Texas House Bill 2, the controversial law that set forth broad restrictions on abortions in the state.

Dec. 2: Obamacare Origination Case

What's that? Another challenge to Obamacare? Yep. We know. Another one.

This time, the lawsuit is based on the origination clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires tax bills to originate in the House of Representatives. The law's challengers are arguing that the bill originated in the Senate, not in the House.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Atlas disagreed with that argument, and tossed the lawsuit, after holding that the overarching purpose of the bill was not to raise revenue. She also noted that the bill was technically introduced in the House, though it was stripped of its language and the health care portion was added in the Senate, reports The Associated Press.

A similar Origination Clause lawsuit was dismissed by the D.C. Circuit earlier this year.

Week of Jan. 5: Texas' HB 2 Abortion Law

We've already talked about just how important the Fifth Circuit's abortion cases are: They could set the nationwide baseline for laws restricting access to abortion. This is, of course, thanks to Texas' HB 2, which was a smorgasbord of every trendy abortion restriction out there: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, restrictions on medical (pill-based) abortions, admitting privileges requirements for abortion doctors, and surgical center standards for the clinics themselves, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Louisiana and Mississippi have also passed controversial laws that have been met with legal challenges.

But the big Texas case for the big Texas bill is the mother of all challenges, because it covers all of the abortion restrictions that are being passed nationwide. Whatever the Fifth Circuit decides after hearing arguments in early January, expect the battle to continue with en banc and Supreme Court cert. petitions.

Week of Jan. 5: Texas, La. Gay Marriage Cases

Last, but certainly not least, are the two gay marriage cases out of Louisiana and Texas. Notably, the federal district court in Louisiana was the first federal court to rule against marriage equality earlier this year. The Fifth Circuit consolidated that case with a ruling out of Texas that went the other way -- in favor of gay marriage -- for oral arguments in early January, reports LGBTQNation.

If the Sixth Circuit either rules in favor of gay marriage, or continues to hold off on ruling at all, then the Fifth Circuit could become the first to rule against marriage equality if it upholds that district court ruling.

Which of these three cases are you most interest in? Tweet us @FindLawLP with your thoughts.

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