Posts tagged with "Supreme Court (SCOTUS)"

As COVID-19 rages, Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare

June 29,2020

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the United States hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, June 26—eclipsing the mark set during one of the deadliest stretches in late April, CBS News reports; noting that there is “ample evidence” that the pandemic is making a comeback.

Yet, even so, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on June 25 to terminate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare—the only health insurance to which many Americans have access. If the justices agree, they will wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans, The New York Times reports.

In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before a midnight deadline, the Administration joined Republican officials in 18 states in arguing that, in 2017, the largely Republican Congress had rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not buying insurance—the so-called individual mandate.

In his brief, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco maintained that the health law’s two remaining central provisions are now invalid because Congress intended that all three work together, the Times said.

The court has not said when it will hear oral arguments, but they are most likely to take place in the fall, just as Americans are preparing to go to the polls in November.

Republicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. They are bracing for the possibility that the effort to overturn the health law will cost them, according to the Times report.

Joel White, a Republican strategist, said in a recent interview with the news outlet that he considered it “pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic.”

Democrats, who view health care a winning issue—and who reclaimed the House majority in 2018 on their promise to expand access and bring down costs—are trying to use the Supreme Court case to press their advantage. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Monday, June 29, on a measure to expand the healthcare law, in an effort to draw a sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi said in a statement late Thursday night, after the administration’s brief was filed.

“If President Trump gets his way,” she added, “130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the A.C.A.’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely.”

Research contact: @nytimes

SCOTUS decision hits labor unions where it hurts

June 28, 2018

In a 5-4 decision, written for the Conservative majority by Justice Samuel Alito on June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court found that public-sector workers who are not union members—but who are, nevertheless, represented by a union for bargaining purposes—cannot be required to pay “fair share” union dues.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the resolution of the case,  Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, effectively makes the entire U.S. public sector a “right-to-work” zone. As a result, millions of public employees will have the choice to no longer support unions that must continue to bargain on their behalf.

The latest finding by the court effectively overruled the high court’s decision in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Education Association case on the grounds that it “was not well-reasoned.”

As the Huffington Post detailed, Janus, as the case was known, was widely seen as the” biggest judicial threat to organized labor in years, if not decades.” The news outlet further noted that, “The ruling in favor of Mark Janus [a state-employed child-support specialist in Illinois] … has the potential to squeeze some of the largest and most powerful unions in the country, reducing their clout in the workplace as well as in national and local politics.”

Alito was joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, and Gorsuch in the majority decision; Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan dissented.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the minority, said that the decision will have “large scale consequences,” and that “judicial disruption does not get any greater than what the court does today,” as reported by The Hill.

Reading her scathing comments from the bench, Kagan said the majority vote had turned “the First Amendment into a sword and [used] it against workaday economic and regulatory policy.”

In a poll conducted before the court voted by Public Opinion Strategies  and covered by Yahoo!, more than 400 government workers were asked whether they should be required to pay union dues to be represented for bargaining purposes. Fully 62% said they should be allowed to stop paying dues, if they so chose; 33% said they should be mandated to continue paying dues.

The unions rely on the dues of non-members to survive.

Research contact: @POStqia

SCOTUS rules states can tax Internet sales

June 22, 2018

Shares of Amazon and other online retailers fell on June 21, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individual states may require them to collect sales taxes, Business Insider reported.

The news outlet detailed that shares of the following Internet retailers were in free fall Thursday morning :

The high court’s decision in the case of South Dakota vs. Wayfair (Docket No. 17-494) overturned a 1992 ruling that limited tax collection by retailers for online sales—regardless of the state in which a shopper lives or if the company has a physical presence in that state.

The findings support a 2016 bill passed in South Dakota “to provide for the collection of sales taxes from certain remote sellers.” The legislation requires any seller “that does not have a physical presence in the state” to collect and remit sales tax if, during the previous or current calendar year:

  1. The seller’s gross revenue from the sales of tangible personal property, any products transferred electronically, or services delivered into South Dakota exceed $100,000; or
  2. The seller sold tangible personal property, any product transferred electronically, or services for delivery into South Dakota in 200 or more separate transactions.

Only five states do not have a statewide sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. However, Alaska and Montana allow individual individual cities to collect local sales taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.

Wayfair had argued in its brief that, if the 1992 ruling were overturned, “the burdens will fall primarily on small- and medium-size [online] companies whose access to a national market will be stifled.”

However, Business Insider reports, the ruling is widely seen as a victory for another part of the retail sector: brick-and-mortar stores, which previously said that online retailers’ ability to skirt sales tax collection gave them an advantage.

States also had argued against the previous statute, saying that it reduced their potential revenue from sales taxes as more consumers turn to digital shopping options.

What’s more, President Donald Trump had criticized Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post, claiming that it does not collect any sales tax. The company maintains that it has been collecting tax in all 45 states that require it.

Wayfair, itself commented on the decision on June 21, saying “We welcome the additional clarity provided by the Court’s decision today. Wayfair already collects and remits sales tax on approximately 80% of our orders in the United States, a number that continues to grow as we expand our logistics footprint. As a result, we do not expect today’s decision to have any noticeable impact on our business, as it may on other retailers who do not currently collect and remit sales tax.

“Wayfair has long supported a legislative solution that would establish a level playing field for brick-and-mortar and online retailers by permitting states to collect sales tax on online sales. While we believe the Court was not the ideal venue for creating this level playing field, we expect that today’s decision will bring clarity and certainty to this issue.”

Research contact: @g_rapier