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Supreme Court of the United States

[Live Stream] Supreme Court Preview: What Is in Store for October Term 2016?

Daniel T. Richards September 27, 2016

This event will be live streamed beginning at approximately 12:25 p.m. Eastern. 

October 4th will mark the first day of oral arguments for the 2016 Supreme Court term. The Court's docket already includes major cases involving insider trading, the Fourth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, criminal law, IP and patent law, the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses, the Fair Housing Act, and voting rights.

The full list of cases granted thus far for the upcoming term can be viewed on SCOTUSblog here. The panelists will also discuss the current composition and the future of the Court.


  1. Mr. Thomas C. Goldstein, Goldstein & Russell PC
  2. Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Georgetown Law Center
  3. Ms. Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network
  4. Hon. George J. Terwilliger, McGuireWoods LLP
  5. Moderator: Mr. Robert Barnes, The Washington Post


Shining City on a HIll by Linda Chavez

Religious Liberty and Nondiscrimination Norms: Is Peaceful Coexistence Possible? (Part 2)

Peter Kirsanow September 27, 2016

In my first blog post discussing the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ new report on conflicts between nondiscrimination norms and religious liberty, I briefly discussed the roots of this conflict. I also noted that the Commission’s progressive majority (the Commission has a total of eight members, six of whom are progressives and two of whom are conservatives) have resoundingly resolved this conflict in favor of nondiscrimination. [Read More]


american healthcare money

Is IRS sharing confidential taxpayer information with HHS to promote Obamacare?

Eileen J. O'Connor September 26, 2016

Yet another ugly aspect of the “Affordable Care Act” has come to light. People who read the legislative language understood at the outset that the if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your plan, you can keep your plan promise was a lie.  Others found out the hard way, when their health insurance policies were cancelled, and their doctors turned them away. Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of how markets work could have predicted that, notwithstanding promises to the contrary, service would suffer and costs would rise, as they have. 

Now we see another ugly consequence of the ACA: the Internal Revenue Service is using confidential information taxpayers provide on tax returns to identify people who chose to pay the Obamacare penalty rather than enroll in an exchange or otherwise buy health insurance. IRS then provides the identities and contact information of these opt-outs to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which uses the information for “marketing outreach” (harassment?) to encourage (pressure?) these people to enroll in the government-mandated healthcare insurance coverage.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady have written to IRS Commissioner Koskinen objecting to this violation of taxpayer privacy, and asking questions about it. 


United Nations' final report on medicine access deeply flawed

Marisa Maleck September 22, 2016

On September 14, the United Nations’ High Level Panel on Access to Medicines released its long-anticipated final report, which purports to provide recommendations for improving global access to health care. Amidst murmurings that the Panel was poised to focus on intellectual-property rights, experts urged the group to consider real barriers to access such as weak infrastructure and a dearth of skilled healthcare workers. But the Panel chose not to heed their advice. Although the Panel acknowledged numerous factors that stop people from getting the life-saving medicines they need, it explained that it had a narrow mandate to focus on a perceived incoherence between intellectual-property rights and access to health care.  [Read More]


Constitutional Subpoena Power Transcends Views on Climate Debate

Elizabeth Price Foley September 20, 2016

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee, chaired by Lamar Smith, R-TX, recently issued subpoenas to several state attorneys general, seeking documents relating to state investigations initiated against scientists, non-profit organizations and businesses that have had the audacity to question climate change. The Committee is concerned that these state investigations are designed to chill the constitutional rights of free speech and association. After the state attorneys general refused to comply with the Committee's subpoenas, last week the Committee held a hearing to discuss what it should do in response to the states' refusal to comply. I was honored to have had the opportunity to testify and demonstrate that the Committee has ample power to enforce its subpoenas. [Read More]



The U.S. Constitution: A cause for celebration - and concern

J. Kennerly Davis September 19, 2016

This past Friday was Constitution Day, designated by Congress for the observance of the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787. (The celebration came a day early this year, since the actual anniversary was on Saturday.)

If you were busy with other things on Friday and failed to celebrate Constitution Day, you are not alone. For most Americans, September 17 is not a date that springs to mind, like July 4, as an important part of our national calendar. This is unfortunate. [Read More]


Should Legal Outcomes Reflect the Truth? by William G. Otis

EEOC loses its hairstyle discrimination case

Timothy Courtney September 16, 2016

Pacific Legal Foundation's Joshua Thompson on the Eleventh Circuit's dismissal of an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission lawsuit yesterday:

Earlier today, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s lawsuit against Catastrophe Management Solutions. This an important decision concerning the proper scope of Title VII. At issue was whether a business’s policy requiring professional-looking haircuts — and interpreted to prohibit dreadlocks —  facially violates Title VII’s prohibition on intentional racial discrimination in employment. Because the Court found that Title VII only prohibits discrimination based on immutable characteristics, it affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit.

A year ago, when PLF filed its amicus brief in the case, I explained the facts of the case:

Think about the following scenario.  A job seeker sees an ad for a sales job. She has all the correct qualifications.  Her interview goes great.  The business says they want to hire her, but because she will be selling the business to the public, she must get a professional-looking haircut.  The job seeker refuses. Instead, she contacts the EEOC and says that the business is discriminating against her on the basis of race. The EEOC agrees, and sues the company for intentional racial discrimination.That’s exactly what happened in EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions.

Read the full article. 


FCC Front Door

Constitution Day at the FCC

Timothy Courtney September 16, 2016

Check out Randy May of the Free State Foundation's thoughts on the FCC and Constitution Day:

Constitution Day officially is September 17, 2016. This year marks 229 years since the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia.

Not many people celebrate Constitution Day, but I've always thought it worthy of commemoration. It's an opportunity to take a moment - or maybe more than a moment - to think about the Constitution's meaning and its relevance to today's issues.

Over the years, I've written often about the ways the FCC's actions implicate constitutional strictures and constitutional values. Because the FCC regulates media, communications, information services, and now the Internet, it is not surprising that many of the agency's actions implicate the First Amendment's free speech guarantee.

While many of the FCC's actions present a target-rich environment, today I want to focus on just one current proceeding that implicates several different constitutional provisions - and that appears to run up against constitutional constraints.

Read the full article


gavel and scales

Legislators should address the need for more quality educational options so judges don’t have to

Christina Sandefur September 15, 2016

Last week’s Connecticut court ruling in a school finance case went far beyond calling for more money. Trial court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a nearly 100-page opinion (which took three hours to read from the bench) that declared the state funding formula unconstitutional and gave state lawmakers six months to make drastic changes to the entire system. This decision is the latest in a string of school finance rulings from various states that have ordered lawmakers to make specific policy changes in order to increase school funding or otherwise change state educational systems. [Read More]


Silhouette of Statue of Liberty

Religious Liberty and Nondiscrimination Norms: Is Peaceful Coexistence Possible? (Part 1)

Peter Kirsanow September 14, 2016

In March 2013, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing to examine conflicts between religious liberty and nondiscrimination norms. Although it took over three years for the Commission to approve a report based on the testimony received at that briefing, the report has finally been released and is available here. In this series of posts, I hope to illuminate some of the contours of this conflict. [Read More]

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