On Wednesday the Justices heard arguments in the last two scheduled cases of the term. Between now and the end of June they will take the bench only to announce opinions, and possibly for the ceremonial investiture of Justice Gorsuch.
The first argument, Sandoz v. Amgen, an exceedingly complex case on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that covers biosimilar drugs.
The second argument, Maslenjak v. U.S., raised concerns, especially for Chief Justice Roberts, about prosecutorial overreach. The case involves a naturalized citizen who lied on her application and was therefore stripped of her citizenship.
“Some time ago,” Roberts asked the government’s lawyer, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”
It’s not getting much attention but there’s a pretty important antitrust trial underway in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The Justice Department is seeking to block the merger, actually more of a takeover, between the insurance companies Anthem and Cigna. Each side, of course, argues opposite results for the health care consumer.
Anthem’s CEO, Joseph R. Swedish testified on the first two days of trial which began last Monday and is expected to end before the new year. Another antitrust lawsuit, this time between Aetna and Humana, begins December 5.
A news story about the trial can be found here.
The big news of course on Monday was the Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion in Zubik v. Burwell (and other consolidated cases) that decided nothing but encouraged the two sides to reach a compromise.
The other case left hanging is Spokeo v. Robins. In a 6-2 opinion the Court asked the Ninth Circuit to take another look at the “concreteness” of the harm to Thomas Robins when Spokeo.com posted inaccurate information about him.
I wish there were a photo directory of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I could have have used it yesterday when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Zubik (as in Bishop Zubik) v. Burwell, the case challenging ACA contraception coverage. In the courtroom before the Justices came to the bench I sketched who I thought was Cardinal Wuerl, but later in the pressroom googling his image I realized I had the wrong bishop. I had instead limned the likeness of Bishop Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania.
At least I recognized the Little Sisters of the Poor as they gathered in the Court’s cafeteria.
Below are my sketches from the argument. You can read Lyle’s analysis here.
Didn’t have a chance to post yesterday’s sketches of two major Supreme Court decisions, Texas Dept. of Housing v. Inclusive Communities and King v. Burwell.
The big one, of course, was Obamacare and for the second time Chief Justice Roberts authored an opinion the saved Affordable Health Care.
I scanned the wide-shot before filling in the foreground with watercolor, and I think I like the result. Maybe I’ll continue this way, plus I’m naturally lazy and it’s less work.
And below is Justice Kennedy announcing his opinion reaffirming the Fair Housing Act ban on unintentional discrimination.
Supporters lined up behind the owners of two family owned businesses, Anthony Hahn, second from right, and Dave Green, far right, on the lower level of the Supreme Court building this morning. They were waiting to hear arguments in two cases concerning Obamacare’s required contraceptive coverage by for-profit employers. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities both embrace Christian principles that cause them to object to forms of contraception that they believe are tantamount to abortion.
It’s been a long day of lively arguments, lots of drawings, and even a little bit of snow, so forgive me if I forgo further comments and simply post the day’s sketches. There are links at the bottom to reporting on the arguments.
Lyle Denniston’s argument recap here.
NYT story here.
WaPo story here.
And a must-read from Dahlia Lithwick here.
My sketches from the announcement of the Court’s opinion, and dissents, on the Affordable Care Act.
As they took their seats Justice Breyer was smiling; Sotomayor looked glum.
Justice Scalia was actually sitting as far back from Roberts as possible. Forgive the artistic license, but I wanted to get his expression in the frame.
I’m pretty much cross-eyed after three days of sketching the Supreme Court’s health care argument marathon, so I’ll just post today’s drawings with brief captions.
Paul Clement, shown above, begins his argument on severability.
Justice Scalia needles Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Smiley Kneedler.
Justice Breyer brandishes portions of the Affordable Care Act.
Clement makes his argument on Medicaid Expansion.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli had a better day today, but too late?
Lyle Denniston’s recap of the arguments on severability is here.
And Lyle’s recap of the Medicaid arguments is here.
It was hard going for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, pictured above and below, as a majority of the Justices expressed skepticism about about the individual mandate provision of the new health care law.
Former Solicitior General Paul Clement, now representing the challengers to the Affordable Care Act, appeared to win today’s round.
Round three tomorrow.
Mike Sacks has it covered here.
The first issue before the Court was the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 which says that you can’t challenge a tax until it’s been collected. Under the new Affordable Care Act if you don’t have health insurance you pay a penalty, and because that penalty is assessed depending upon your income and is collected by the IRS it could be seen as a tax. And since that tax has yet to be collected an appeal is premature, a position neither side is claiming and so the Court appointed Washington lawyer Robert A. Long, pictured below, to play devil’s advocate, or more properly amicus curiae.
Lyle Denniston’s take on today’s arguments here.