Wyoming Liberty Group
The Obamacare (PPACA) challenge is scheduled for oral arguments in late March (just after its second birthday). In the meantime, the deadlines for briefs on various issues come and go, and—as this is the most important Supreme Court case in decades—a number of briefs are rolling in on both sides.
In my personal life I have a lot of Top Five lists. This includes Top Five Movies I Wish I’d Directed (not to be confused with my Top Five Favorite Movies), Top Five Novels I Wish I’d Authored, and so on. As of a few days ago, I may have to start keeping a professional list, starting with the Top Five Policy Papers I Wish I’d Written. The first entry would be Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens, a new paper by Clayton Cramer and David Burnett for the Cato Institute.
Two weeks ago the United States Supreme Court, in a surprising but welcome 9-0 ruling, ruled that a minister fired by a Lutheran congregation could not claim protection of federal discrimination laws. Chief Justice John Roberts succinctly summed up the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom:
by JP Eichmiller
Disputes between states’ versus federal powers predate the Constitution and continue today. In Arizona, the Justice Department has staked a high profile battle with state officials over immigration laws. The Environmental Protection Agency exists in a perpetual cycle of litigation over regulations states argue inhibit industrial and economic growth. Even the Controlled Substances Act has been challenged as an overextension of federal power on states’ rights to control their own police enforcement.
As an alumnus of Hillsdale College, I’m frequently given immediate credibility in conservative and libertarian circles. Given that I work in public policy where trusting relationships are of the utmost importance, I don’t mind this advantage. Although I believe in standing on my own arguments and work product rather than on my Hillsdale degree, my degree represents four years of serious study, intellectual rigor and personal growth. I would not trade my time at Hillsdale for anything.
I heard a bit of pessimism at last week’s Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention regarding the Obamacare challenges, namely that the Supreme Court would pass on hearing these initial challenges because the upcoming 2012 election may bring the immense political squabble behind Obamacare to a close. I did not share this pessimism, because in dealing with a circuit split (the 11th Circuit overturned Obamacare’s individual mandate and the 6th Circuit upheld it) there is ample proof that the legal question of how far the Commerce Clause goes is not merely a political invention. Indeed, one of the best parts of the convention was a debate between Paul Clement (former U.S. Solicitor General) and Professor Laurence Tribe (Harvard Law School), which covered nearly every controversial legal facet of Obamacare’s individual mandate. (I hope video of this debate is made available soon and, if so, will link to it. Update: the video is available here.)
Favorable news came out of the federal D.C. District Court this week for supporters of individual liberties. The court recently ruled that government-imposed graphic labels on cigarette packets are unconstitutional. At issue were new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations that required tobacco companies to place large graphic warnings on their products. Whether you’re partial to Marlboro or, like me, stay far away from tobacco smoke, this much is clear: the court’s ruling invalidating the regulations proves constitutionally healthy.