Legal


What California Has At Stake At The Supreme Court

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

So, what would happen if the Supreme Court struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Hundreds of thousands of Californians would lose their health insurance, and many more would lose financial assistance to be able to afford care and coverage. Millions more California families would find that their new options, benefits, and consumer protections would disappear.

If the Supreme Court strikes down the health law, it would be a radical, unprecedented, judicially activist step that would literally throw people in treatment off of coverage, and have devastating ripple effect throughout our health system and state. Hundreds of thousands of Californians could lose their health coverage. Over 8,600 Californians with pre-existing conditions would be dumped onto the mercy of the market, uninsured and uninsurable. Over 370,000 low-income Californians in federally-matched county 'bridge to reform' programs would find themselves on a bridge to nowhere.

Chilling Impact of Court Rejecting Health Care Law

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

Progressives are surprisingly unconcerned about the Supreme Court’s now likely striking down of the individual mandate and perhaps the entire health care law. To the contrary, articles on sites like Firedoglake.com and TheNation.com argue that striking down the law creates an opening for single-payer, long the preferred progressive health care plan. But while it’s good to find a silver lining in any dark cloud, the negative impacts of the court’s striking down Obamacare go far beyond health care. Suddenly, every progressive reform measure will be charged with being “unconstitutional,” and many activists will figure that as long as the right-wing Supreme Court majority remains, there’s no point working to pass anything. And that’s exactly the attitude that opponents of progressive change hope to foster.

The Obama Administration’s Correct, But Inconsistent Health Care Decision

By Eric Wooten

Last week, federal health care officials denied California’s request to start charging Medi-Cal patients co-payments on everything from prescriptions to hospital stays. That would have been unprecedented and would have had a detrimental effect on access to health care services for the most vulnerable among us.  For those insured by the state, even a small co-pay would certainly lead to fewer seniors and children receiving services at all.

While the decision was the right thing to do to preserve the safety net for the 7.5 million Californians who rely on the state for health insurance, it was inconsistent with the Obama Administration’s previous damaging decisions, and out of line with California’s routine and unreasonable stance on Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.

Health Reform, The Galatians, and the Moody Blues

Dr. Robert K. Ross
The California Endowment

The fate of the Affordable Care Act represents the most far-reaching legislative “so what” that our nation has seen in the last fifty years. Our Supreme Court has quite a weighty decision on their hands.    

A fair amount has been written, and continues to be written, by legal scholars about the relative constitutionality of the controversial law. I’ll steer clear from engaging in the discourse of constitutional law, particularly since I have zero expertise on that front.

Let’s just say that the support, defense, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act is the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do.

Why the Supreme Court Will Uphold Health Care Law

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

As the nation focuses on Supreme Court oral arguments on the health care law, the politics of the ruling defy standard assumptions. On the one hand, the most pro-business Court in modern history will decide the case. It has handed huge victories to corporate interests by striking down campaign finance laws, eliminating class action damages in employment discrimination cases, and by issuing several rulings that limit access to the courts. This track record would appear to make the Court’s striking down the health care law a no-brainer. But I see the Court upholding the law for two reasons. First, the health and pharmaceutical industries prefer Obamacare to the status quo, and to potentially more sweeping reforms like single-payer which would emerge if the health care law at issue is struck down. Second, and most importantly, a ruling upholding Obamacare gives the Court even more freedom to pursue its right-wing agenda on other issues.

California’s Biggest Verdicts Go To Businesses, Not Individuals

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

The National Law Journal published its list of the nation’s Top 100 Verdicts of 2011 in its print issue of March 12. (The online version of the report is available only to paid subscribers.) Of those Top 100 verdicts, 18 were handed down in California, either in state or federal court; since California has only 12% of the nation’s population, this would seem to fit the notion that California is a “litigious” state. Furthermore, those 18 California verdicts all rank among the 67 highest nationally, making up almost 27% of that total.

But before the “tort reform” crowd gets too carried away with decrying California’s “runaway juries” and “jackpot justice,” they should take a look at who’s winning these cases.

Why Are Many of Our Children’s Teachers Still Students Themselves?

By Maribel Heredia
Plaintiff in Lawsuit Against the Department of Education

Four years ago, my son Joey — who was in first grade at the time — came home from school and said, “Mommy, my teacher wasn’t there today. She went to college.”

I figured he had to be mistaken; surely, his teacher had completed college and her professional training. I started asking questions. But instead of putting my mind at ease, the truth shocked me.

It turned out that the person responsible for teaching my son vital skills — how to read, spell, add and subtract — was still learning how to teach.

Proposition 8: The Marriage Protectors Are Back In Court Again

By Peter Schrag

There was little surprise in last week’s attempt of the marriage protectors to get a larger appellate panel to review the three-judge Ninth Circuit of Appeals decision overturning California’s gay marriage ban. They said from day one they were going to do something. Some shoe had to fall.

But how they’re arguing for it raises some curious questions.

The Ninth Circuit ruling, handed down earlier this month, was as much as anything an attempt to circumscribe its scope and thus make it a less tempting target for the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court, who like nothing better than to stick it to the libs on the left coast. The leading Ninth Circuit lib is Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who wrote the Proposition 8 decision.

Supreme Court Set to End Affirmative Action in U.S. Schools

By Randy Shaw

In accepting a Texas case of a white student challenging racial preferences, the United States Supreme Court is again set to reverse decades of court precedents and impose its own conservative agenda. Since President Obama’s election, the Court has ended decades of campaign finance laws, eliminated damage claims in class action employment discrimination cases, promoted Republican-gerrymandered legislative districts in Texas, and almost consistently ruled for corporate interests. Now it will bring U.S. jurisprudence into the make-believe world where discrimination and racial profiling against African-Americans, Latinos and other racial minorities does not exist, and where our society is now “colorblind.”

Why “Narrow” Prop 8 Decision is Good for Marriage Equality

By Paul Hogarth
Beyond Chron

On Tuesday, an ideologically diverse, three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Walker’s decision overruling Proposition 8 – and the spin is it was decided on narrow, “only-in-California” grounds. But that’s not entirely true, and even in cases where it is marriage equality advocates should celebrate a tactical victory. Justice Stephen Reinhardt’s highly readable 80-page decision was clearly written with the U.S. Supreme Court in mind – and its heavy reliance on Romer v. Evans (1996) should be enough to get Anthony Kennedy’s vote.