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Supreme Court sets two important dates for the New Year

December 24, 2014 by NCC Staff


The issues of Obamacare funding and the legality of same-sex marriage bans now have official dates on the Supreme Court schedule for the start of the New Year.


800px-Supreme_Court_US_2010On Monday, the Court released its hearing schedule for February and March, and the case of King v. Burwell at 10 a.m. will be on Wednesday, March 4, as the only set of arguments for that day.


The Court accepted the case, previously known as Halbig v. Burwell, back on November 7, 2014. King v. Burwell challenges to ability of the federal government to offer tax credits to qualifying insurance payers in states where the federal government is running health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.


The Court also took the case despite the Obama administration’s desire for a full appeals court to review a finding in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


Currently, the federal government runs health insurance exchanges in 34 states. The tax credits go to people who most likely can’t afford to buy insurance at full prices on the exchanges. So a ruling that holds the subsidies are unconstitutional could have an adverse effect on Obamacare’s future.


In July, a divided three-judge panel struck down tax subsidies provided to residents of 34 states who purchased new health care plans on exchanges established by the federal government.


What also interesting about the King v. Burwell case was that the Justices voted on it at a private conference on a Friday morning and announced granting the case the same day.


That is another scenario for the current cases under consideration about same-sex marriage bans. The Justices will hear appeals from the Sixth Circuit and Louisiana on Friday, January 9, 2015, in their private conference. In all, at least five cases upholding the bans will be in front of the Justices on that Friday morning.


On November 6, 2014, a decision of the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that appeals about state-approved same-sex marriage bans should be left to the political processes, with voters and legislatures deciding the issue.


The ruling from Judge Jeffrey Sutton went against a series of rulings against the bans in other federal courts, setting up a likely acceptance of the cases in the Supreme Court.


If at least four Justices vote in private to accept the same-sex marriage cases, the announcement could come late on January 9, or on Monday, January 12, when the Court is scheduled to release orders. The Court has two other conference days scheduled in January, but a further delay would make it less likely that the case will be argued in the current term, which ends in late June 2015.


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