Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit ruled against Matt Sissel, the Iowa artist and entrepreneur who challenged the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate on the grounds that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Origination Clause. Article I, § 7, clause 1 requires that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.” Obamacare raises government revenue by billions of dollars, but it was drafted in the Senate. Judge Judith Rogers wrote the opinion in Sissel v. HHS for a panel including two newly minted Obama appointees, Judge Nina Pillard and Judge Robert Wilkins.

This ruling comes in the wake of last week’s dueling decisions in Halbig v. Burwell and King v. Burwell. Another D.C. Circuit panel found that Obamacare subsidies were illegal in the 36 states that refused to set up state healthcare exchanges. On the same day, the Fourth Circuit disagreed. In court battles, Obamacare opponents are winning some and losing some.

What should we make of their track record so far?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Liberal Critiques Of Challenges To Obamacare: 2 Errors Worth Correcting”

The Supreme Court released its opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, holding that the HHS contraception mandate violates an employer’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, even when the employer is a for-profit corporation closely held by individuals who object to the mandate on religious grounds. Following the decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer zone case, Hobby Lobby is the second case in a week where the Court told us how much each side of a fundamentally divided issue can ask of the other, under the law. They are hard cases to talk about without questioning the good faith or good sense of the other side. Nearly everyone thinks either Hobby Lobby or McCullen was a bad decision.

The only thing more frustrating than a bad high-profile Supreme Court decision may be the public’s response to any high-profile Supreme Court decision. For proof, one need only look as far as some of the tweets on SCOTUSblog’s Twitter feed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Do You Take Seriously In The Hobby Lobby Debate?”

Last year at about this time, Justice Samuel Alito authored one of the most sneaky anti-woman decisions in recent memory. In Vance v. Ball State University, Justice Alito made it much more difficult for women to sue their employers for workplace harassment. At the time, I said it’s the kind of decision Chris Brown would be proud of, but on reflection, that may have been unfair to Chris Brown.

Today, Alito once again puts in the heavy lifting to make the world worse for working women. Apparently, in Alito’s world, it’s not only okay for employers to try to have sex with their female employees, they also get to regulate what medications they take…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hobby Lobby And The True Gangsta Life Of Justice Alito”


* President Obama defends Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), saying that the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website will get fixed. [Washington Post]

* “Calling All Unemployed Law Grads: Greenberg Traurig Is Hiring.” But there’s a catch. We’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case regarding how to determine mental disability in death-penalty cases. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re thinking of selling legal services over Groupon, proceed with care. [ABA via WSJ Law Blog]

* Want to get out of jury duty? Try flipping the bird at the defendant (which is what this Biglaw partner allegedly did). [ABA Journal]

* Chris Geidner takes a closer look at Chris Christie’s decision not to keep fighting marriage equality in New Jersey. Is it all about 2016? [BuzzFeed]

* More details on the circumstances surrounding a Reed Smith partner’s profane and ill-advised tweet. Expect Steven Regan to be sent back to “Tweet School.” [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

I nearly did not write this post this week. (I’ll pause while some of you wish that ‘nearly’ weren’t a part of that sentence.) I started the week with a mild toothache. By the time I reached my dentist on Tuesday morning, that niggling pain had bloomed into an infection that spread from my tooth to my jaw bone to the soft tissue of my face. Despite oral penicillin (and Vicodin!), I developed a high fever, the left side of my face swelled to grotesque proportions, and my jaw seized shut. I ended up in an ER on IV antibiotics.

While portions of the federal government ground to a halt due to insufficient funds, I held ice packs to my head and prayed quiet prayers about septicemia and the relative impermeability of the blood-brain barrier. Vaguely, in the background, I knew Congress and the president were arguing about health care. About funding the PPACA. Obamacare.

My heart goes out to folks harmed by the federal government shut-down this week. I also agree with those who are dismayed that Capitol Hill can’t reach a consensus sufficient to end the current crisis. It’s their job to find workable agreements, after all. That much, I hope most of us can agree on. Since we’re not here to agree, let’s talk a bit about Obamacare, the source of this week’s trouble in Washington . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Democracy Hurts: The Painful But Legitimate Debate Over Obamacare”

See ya, professor!

* Since summer’s start, Patton Boggs has been leaking lawyers like a sieve. Thus far, 22 partners and 11 associates have defected from the firm to Holland & Knight, Jackson Lewis, Arent Fox, and WilmerHale. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Considering the deadly force choke American health care reform legislation has supposedly put on employers, perhaps more lawyers ought to consider becoming Jedi masters of the Affordable Care Act. [Daily Business Review]

* The new normal for the ivory tower: Law schools are tackling falling applications by “voluntarily” decreasing their class sizes, or by “voluntarily” offering faculty and staff buyouts. [Wall Street Journal]

* But look on the bright side, professors, the ABA wants to amend its accreditation standards to save your jobs and offer greater protections. Too bad its unwilling to do the same for students. [ABA Journal]

* If you’ve been swindling clients for long enough, the law school you donated money to will try to scrub your name off its walls. That is what’s happening now at IU-McKinney Law. [National Law Journal]

* If you want to go to law school, you should base your ultimate decision on your financial future and job prospects. You may be very sorry if you don’t. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Judge Tom Greenwell, the Texas jurist found dead in his chambers, RIP. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]

* The role of lawyers in America’s Syrian policy. Everyone always tries to throw the lawyers under the bus. [Lawfare]

* Pippa Middleton has some lawyers trying to crack down on a parody Twitter account. Thankfully, the law exists to protect wealthy socialites from being mocked. [IT-Lex]

* GCs are not happy with the rates charged by outside counsel. I, for one, am shocked that GCs don’t like paying upwards of $1000 an hour for “further work.” [Consero]

* Honestly, we should have seen this coming: a Zimmerman juror is seeking a book deal. This is the juror who assumed black people had rioted over the shooting and called Trayvon a “boy of color,” so you can tell the prosecution was doing a bang-up job with its jury selection procedures. [AlterNet]

* Conservatives rejoice after several unions complain about Obamacare. Oh, the irony! Except the unions’ complaint is not that Obamacare is bad, but that it doesn’t go far enough in providing incentives to non-profit insurance plans and penalizing companies that are cutting back on hours to avoid the law. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Top 50 Legal Innovators, Techies, Visionaries, and Leaders: meet this year’s Fastcase 50 (Lat appeared on the inaugural list). [Fastcase via TaxProf Blog]

* After the jump, a short video about Superman and the duty to rescue. I understand that people are miffed that the most recent film version of Superman takes a laissez-faire view of saving lives, but Superman’s always been a dick

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.15.13″

* You’ve seen Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg give Justice Antonin Scalia the finger in prose, but now you can hear what it would sound like in operatic form as composed by a recent law school graduate. [NPR]

* The Fourth Circuit upheld Obamacare’s employer mandate against Liberty University, calling it a constitutional tax, just like the individual mandate. Now’s a perfect time for a sip of Campari. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The Fried Frank toner bandit was sent to the slammer, but alas, it’s unlikely that the firm will be able to recover any of its losses. Too bad, it could use the cash after its 2012 performance. [Am Law Daily]

* Crisis? What crisis? The dean of UC Davis Law refuses to trim class size, but that doesn’t really matter — the application cycle is handling the situation quite nicely. [Sacramento Business Journal]

* Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane won’t defend the state against a lawsuit seeking to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage. She’s choosing the people over politics. [New York Times]

* With his trial quickly drawing to a close, George Zimmerman is growing increasingly worried about his future. Let’s face it, even if he’s acquitted, living in hiding isn’t a very good look for him. [ABC News]

* The Obama administration has decided to delay the employer health care mandate until 2015. What does that mean for you? Well, since you’re not a business, you still have to purchase health insurance by 2014. Yay. [Economix / New York Times]

* Untying the knot is harder than it looks: Gay couples stuck in loveless marriages they’ve been unable to dissolve due to changing state residency may be able to find new hope in the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA decision. [New York Times]

* Clinical professors are pushing the ABA to amend its accreditation standards to require practical skills coursework. Amid faculty purges, they’re committed to do whatever it takes for additional job security. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re heading to a law school recruitment forum and want to get ahead in the applications process, make your mark by acting professionally, not by dressing like a d-bag. [U.S. News & World Report]

* “As a parent we’re not always proud of everything they do.” Of course there’s a prosecution inquiry being made into the Don West ice cream cone picture that ended up on Instagram. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Lawyerly lothario Zenas Zelotes has been suspended from practicing law for five months. He should take his own advice, find an ethics attorney, and make her his girlfriend. [Connecticut Law Journal]

* When you’re arguing about a video game — online or anywhere — you should probably leave talk of murdering children out of the conversation. You could wind up in jail for months like this guy. [CNN]

* John Tiley, one of the United Kingdom’s most preeminent tax law professors, RIP. [The Telegraph]

Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who nominated a lawyer; thanks to our finalists, for being such accomplished and interesting individuals; and thanks to all our readers, who picked our victor after two weeks of voting over the holiday season.

Here are ATL’s past Lawyers of the Year:

For 2012, who will join their distinguished ranks? Let’s find out….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year Competition: The Winner!”

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