US Supreme Court opens, likely to wade into health care debate
It seems inevitable that the US Supreme Court will agree to hear the legal challenge to President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. As the court opens Monday, gun laws, immigration, racial preferences, and separation of church and state loom as major issues as well.
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The teacher is not asking any court to take sides in a religious dispute, her lawyers say. Rather, she merely seeks a determination of whether her dismissal violated generally applicable provisions of a federal anti-discrimination law.Skip to next paragraph
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The disputed status of Jerusalem
In Zivotofsky v. Clinton, the high court will wade into a clash between Congress and the executive branch over a sensitive matter of foreign affairs – the disputed status of Jerusalem.
As a result, children born in Jerusalem to US citizens are listed on birth documents as having been born in Jerusalem. No country is noted on the State Department documents.
Pro-Israeli members of Congress who disagree with this neutral posture, sponsored and passed a law directing the State Department to record the place of birth as Jerusalem, Israel.
The issue came to a head following the birth of Menachem Zivotofsky, a US citizen, in Jerusalem. His mother applied for a passport for her infant son and asked that the place of birth be recorded as Jerusalem, Israel. When the State Department refused, the parents sued to enforce the federal statute.
A federal judge threw the case out, saying it presented a political question best left to the elected branches of government to iron out. The federal appeals court in Washington affirmed.
In agreeing to take up the parents’ case, the high court asked both parties to address an additional issue: Whether Congress’s Jerusalem law impermissibly infringes on the president’s power to recognize foreign sovereigns?
During a recent Supreme Court preview briefing, Professor Kinkopf told the American Constitution Society that four of the nine justices had prior work experience arguing separation of powers issues on the side of the president.
This prior experience, he said, will “orient the court to look favorably on the president’s position.”
But Kinkopf warned, “The way they do it could have dramatic consequences because Congress has other powers and the president has other exclusive powers, like the commander-in-chief power.”
How the court resolves the Jerusalem issue could set the stage for larger confrontations, he says.
“Can Congress use its spending power to limit the way the president exercises the commander in chief power?” Kinkopf asks.
Two important Fourth Amendment cases are also high on the court’s docket this term.