Supreme Court of the United States

I’ve been celebrating like many of you over the marriage equality and Obamacare decisions last Thursday and Friday. But my own celebrations are tempered by the realization that these two cases don’t symbolize any shift on the Court. Kennedy’s libertarian philosophy has paid dividends in the gay rights controversy for years. But the decision last November to hear the case challenging whether federal health exchanges could provide subsidies to those without the money to buy a health plan unassisted, turned into a trap.[1] The scale of damage that would have been done by blocking the subsidies made it impossible even for opponents of the program to shut it down. Nothing in the decision suggests that Kennedy had a change of heart about having wanted to declare it unconstitutional, and nothing suggests that Roberts had a change of heart about narrowing the commerce power, even though he had approved the individual mandate in the statute as a tax. Twenty years ago, Thomas wrote he would consider going back to the Court’s very restrictive definition of federal powers before 1937 when President Franklin Roosevelt’s appointments changed the Court’s philosophy. Apparently Scalia and Alito are on Board with him.

 

Last week was a momentous one for the U.S. Supreme Court, as the high court heard two cases that when decided could have national implications on the rights of same sex couples to marry.   

Wikimedia Commons

Today the Supreme Courts of the United States is hearing the first of two cases that may be the deciding factors in whether same sex marriage is declared legal across the country. 

Today we want your take on the cases, today’s argument on California’s Proposition 8 law that banned gay marriage, and tomorrow’s case challenging the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). WAMC's Alan Chartock hosts.

WAMC

Supporters of gay rights participated in vigils and rallies held in cities across the country on the eve of the Supreme Court hearing arguments in two same-sex marriage cases.

   While about 50 people gathered around the front steps of the Federal Court House in Springfield to cheer and applaud speakers, Charlie Rogers stood like a sentinel on the curb facing oncoming traffic on State Street. He held a hand-painted sign reading “Overturn DOMA”

 

The America I love is disappearing from the public scene. When the Supreme Court ruling upheld the constitutionality of ObamaCare, a disturbing and, in my opinion, dangerous precedent has been created, one not different from the “separate but equal” precedent behind Plessy v. Ferguson. A majority court decision confirms the view that there are virtually no limitations on the power of Congress. Using a latitudinarian interpretation of the Commerce Clause, Congress can mandate almost anything.

Just a day after the Supreme Court of the United States decided on two cases and a day before what is expected to be their ruling on President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform bill, today we’re looking at the Supreme Court’s caseload and we want your take on these recently released and upcoming decisions.

Joining us on this edition of Vox Pop with expert analysis is Union College Assistant Professor of political science (and WAMC “professor in residence”) Brad Hays. WAMC’s Alan Chartock hosts.