All Eyes on U.S. Supreme Court
By Pamela M. Prah, Staff Writer
With key decisions pending this week from the U.S. Supreme Court on health care, immigration and elections, states policymakers and politicians are preparing for what could be one of the most historic weeks in Washington, D.C.
The court’s term ends this week and the some of the rulings important to states could come as soon as Monday (June 25).
As Kaiser Health News has reported, the prospect of the Supreme Court striking down all of the federal health law or some of it “has many people in Washington abuzz about what happens next,” noting that consumers, states and the federal government have much to win – or lose – depending on the ruling.
State and governors are watching closely. As The Sacramento Bee has reported, if the Affordable Care Act is upheld, California stands to receive $45 billion to $55 billion from the federal government from 2014 to 2019 to expand coverage under Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid. That expansion is something that California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley told the paper the state could not afford without the federal law.
Likewise, Connecticut's Medicaid program could be thrown into “legal limbo,” The Connecticut Mirror has reported. Shortly after the federal health care law was passed more than two years ago, Connecticut became the first state to move its state-funded health program for poor adults without children under the federal Medicaid umbrella, which brought an extra $53 million in federal dollars, the paper said. “Connecticut could lose millions of additional federal dollars after 2013-14 if the Supreme Court strikes down that portion of the law,” the paper said.
NPR on Sunday provided a countdown to the court’s health care ruling.
Meanwhile, both sides of the immigration debate are preparing for the court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, including possibly reviving lawsuits in Alabama and Indiana or “dusting off stalled copycat bills in Pennsylvania and Mississippi,” The Washington Post reported. The story includes a recap of the major immigration laws at the state level.
In Arizona itself, if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the law, opponents are expected to sue police departments on claims that officers racially profile people as they enforce the provision of the law that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons, The Associated Press has reported.
In yet another important issue for states, the Supreme Court will revisit its landmark Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. Last Friday, activists and legal bloggers questioned the legal strategy that Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is using in that controversial case.
The Great Falls Tribune reported that the groups, including The Eleventh Amendment Movement (TEAM), argue the Constitution’s 11th Amendment forbids a private corporation from suing a sovereign state in federal court, as in this Montana case, so the U.S. Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction. "Montana has chosen to carry the banner of campaign finance reform for the whole country, and this case could well determine whether Citizens United applies to every state in the union," TEAM attorney Carl Mayer said in the article.
Follow Stateline’s coverage of these ruling as they happen this week.