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First Monday — the day that we have anxiously awaited since the caffeine buzz from our healthcare case coverage wore off — is finally here. There was a lot going on at the Court today, so let's discuss the five things you should know about the first day of the 2012 term.
Kiobel Rehearing. Last term, the Supreme Court seemed to lean toward affirming the Second Circuit's Kiobel ruling and disallowing human rights claims under the Alien Tort Statute. This term, the Court seems to be looking for a happy medium. While it may be easiest to simply affirm the circuit court, the Nine also seemed troubled by the idea that human rights abuses could simply go unchecked. The question, according to SCOTUSblog, is what kind of balance the Court can strike.
Lozman Arguments. The Justices weren't buying David C. Frederick's argument that a vessel is something that "floats, moves, and carries people or things on water," Reuters reports. An inner tube or inflatable raft would fit that description, according to Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Stephen Breyer suggested his coffee mug could float. Justice Elena Kagan was equally skeptical of Fane Lozman's claim that his houseboat wasn't a vessel. (The Court's questions regarding how to define a vessel remind us of the Monty Python method of determining whether a person is a witch. "If this woman weighs as much as a duck, then she is a witch!") What's clear today is that there's no clear winner from oral arguments.
Health Care Redux? There could be a sequel to the healthcare case excitement in 2012. Monday morning, the Court asked the Justice Department to respond to Liberty University's request for a new hearing in its Affordable Care Act challenge. The court rarely grants rehearings, especially on issues it has already decided, and its rules say rehearings are only allowed when circumstances have changed significantly since an appeal was denied, The Hill reports. Liberty says its case meets the criteria for a new hearing in a lower court.
No News. The Court did not grant cert in any new cases today.
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