Monday, May 16, 2016

Supreme Court dodges major decision on Obamacare birth control

Supporters of insurance coverage for birth control rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court in March.
Today, the Supreme Court was unable to decide a case about Obamacare's mandatory birth control coverage. The Court handed the case down to lower courts.

Since Scalia's death earlier this year, the court has been split 4-4 liberal to conservative, so the justices decided they couldn't make a decision. This move to send the case down to lower courts may mean that they hope those courts will come up with some sort of compromise.

What do you think of all this? Do you think it was a good idea for the Supreme Court to send the case to lower courts? With so many other courts making decisions, what do you think will come out of this? Finally, do you think the Supreme Court will take the case again sometime?


Reuters
NPR
NYT

12 comments:

Jeffrey Song said...

If the Supreme Court knows that it won't be able to come to a conclusive decision even before handling the case, then I feel that it is only fair to sent that case back down to the lower courts so that a decision can be made. I'm sure this topic of controversy will show itself again in another case, and that point another Supreme Court justice will have most likely been appointed and the case will be able to be decided and a precedent set in place. Until then, all we can do is wait and hear the lower courts' judgment.

Justin Chan said...

Thank you Ethan for your post. I agree with Jeffrey in that because there will likely be a 4-4 decision for the case, "it is only fair [that] the case [be] sent back down to the lower courts." The decision to send the case down could also come off as the justices trying to avoid being political if they can, especially in a case where a split is expected to occur, but of course through the AP Government curriculum, we've been taught that the judiciary branch is not as independent as the general public may believe.

I believe that this type of case will surface again, and once the ninth justice is filled, the Supreme Court will take the case and make a final decision. In general, the Supreme Court at this moment is avoiding all controversial cases, not just this one.
Here is a news article explaining the phenomenon: http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/washington-dc-bureaua/2016/05/3/u-s--supreme-court-issue-cases-next-term.html

Do you think that the Supreme Court should be avoiding these types of controversial cases?
Does it change the way you see the Supreme Court?

Alex Binsacca said...

I am not really sure how confident I am about the lower courts making a decision on such a hot topic issue. Although, if the supreme court can't make its own decision then I guess the next best place would be the lower. Depending on how well the lower courts have handle such a situation in the past, this decision will either work or be an utter disaster. With that being said, and not much confidence in the lower courts, there is no doubt in my mind that we will see this case pop up again. The reason being is because it is about abortion and Obamacare, two topics in modern american society that so many people are concerned about. So to answer Justin's question I do not think that the supreme court should be avoiding cases like this, it is cases like this and their decisions in such cases that have made such revolutionary changes. For instance, we would not be where we are without the decision made in Brown v The Board of Education.
The only part of my opinion that changes about the supreme court in this case, is it surprises me. This is the first time that I personally have ever heard of a dead lock in the supreme court.

Huayu Ouyang said...

I agree with the previous commenters that it was a good idea for the Supreme Court to send the case to the lower courts since there are only 8 justices on the bench, which could have resulted in a tie vote. This way, the Supreme Court can defer this decision to the lower courts and can avoid angering either side of the debate. However, I think this issue will probably turn up again in a later Supreme Court case since they did not make a ruling this time, because whatever ruling the lower courts make will probably be challenged again. I do think that it's wise for the Supreme Court to be avoiding these types of controversial cases because if they did make a ruling, people would be mad that it was made without the proper 9 justices on the court.

Lea Tan said...

I agree with everyone that it was a smart choice for the justices to send the case to lower courts for a ruling. The Supreme Court is not complete without a ninth justice, and like Huayu said, people would probably be upset if they did make a ruling with only 8 justices. In addition, because they knew they probably would end up in a deadlock, it saved a lot of time to send the case elsewhere. According to the NYT article, the court has deadlocked three times since Scalia's death, illustrating how equally divided the justices are and how necessary a ninth justice really is. It also shows how much of a difference just one justice can make and how much power they really hold; if the court always only had 8 justices, they'd be forced to make compromises more often- and maybe that would be beneficial to some people and more representative of the nation (although it would cause a lot more timing issues). But with 9 justices, one person can completely change the outcome of a case, making one side a clear winner and one a loser. Depending on what the lower courts decide, the Supreme Court will probably look at the case again once they have a ninth justice.

Langston Swiecki said...

Assuming that this case is handed down to a court that has jurisdiction over a regional section off the United States, the actual decision will not matter a great amount, since the effect of its ruling will only impact this regional area. Similar cases will have an impact on a case by case basis, devoid of any sweeping or permanent power, and ultimately this issue must be resolved by the Supreme Court if it is to be put to rest. As others have noted, this emphasizes the extraordinary power wielded by simply one justice, but it simultaneously highlights the importance of the upcoming election, considering that the nominee will be reliant on the president to get the nomination in the first place. Since a mandate of the people is so important to the Republican-led Congress (despite the fact that, looking back at original intent, the judicial branch was supposed to be the most insulated from public opinion)-actually, scratch that. Since the current president Barack Obama is a Democrat, the Republican-led Congress will likely block all presumptive nominees simply because of this fact. Thus, under the next president's tenure, we will likely see a a nominee with greater leanings to a conservative or liberal ideology, which could have an impact for years to come.

Ryan Swan said...

I think it was a good call to hand this case back down to the lower courts for now. Since Scalia's passing, the Supreme Court has been in quite the pickle! If any more cases are going to be taken by the Supreme Court, I find it more appropriate for there to be a 9th member added. This would deal with the court's main problem. Of course choosing a nominee for the Supreme Court is not easy task and requires more time than spent on writing this blog, nominating the justice is crucial. Oops I kind of flew off the main topic but anyways, if more courts are having to make decisions then this would have a bigger effect on the community of province and not the nation as a whole. And I would hope that the Supreme Court will take the case again! This seems like an important topic that would be best heard from the Supreme Court. More important topics require important decision making and that's just what the Supreme Court can do!

Danny Halawi said...

I believe that the supreme court had to find a way to somehow make a decision. If they're split on an issue, I don't see any other way they can resolve it other than involving a third party. Sure, I suppose they could have put the case to the side and made a decision when a new supreme court justice shows up in the scene, but I believe that prolonging the case makes the supreme court look inefficient and possibly even weak, which I think explains their decision to involve the lower courts. Also, as Jeffrey said, I don't think this exact case will be reexamined, but rather implications of this case might show up in future supreme court cases in the future.

Anna Joshi said...

I agree with everyone else that it was a good idea to abstain from making a decision. Like Ryan Swan said, it would be more appropriate to wait for a 9th judge before this decision is made. I think this is absolutely crucial because it is such a controversial topic where both sides of the political spectrum have completely opposite view points. While, like Danny said, this case may not be reexamined, one very similar to it may be. I believe that the judges are holding out for that 9th judge in order to take on that future case because it will be a momentous decision. Even if they made a decision now and took a look at another case in the future, it could cause complications in precedents (supposing they make an opposite ruling). That as a result will reflect badly on the Supreme Court. Therefore, I definitely think it was a wise decision that they handed the case down to the lower courts.

Jared Mayerson said...

Through this, it is obvious that the supreme court has to have an odd amount of Supreme Justices. An even number, especially when the amount of ideology from each side is balanced, will result in many inconclusive decisions, like in this case. The Supreme Court is an important part of the federal government and cannot function like this. A new Justice has to be nominated and the Senate has to stop their unconstitutional rejection of any nominee President Obama chooses. In this case, the Supreme Court had to hand the case back down because they were unable to even have a majority. I hope that they take this case again in the future once a new Justice is confirmed to the court but that can only happen if the Senate will stop abusing their power. In order to restore maximum function to the Supreme Court, a new Justice has to be added.

Dhruv Rohatgi said...

Going off of Jared's point, this scenario is a result of the republicans stubbornness in the senate. If they had not been holding off on their hope of Donald Trump being elected, then maybe the supreme court would be able to make a decision. I really do think that this should bring light to the republicans very selfish decision to not elect another supreme court justice and keep the justices at an even number. There was a reason why our founding fathers decided to have an odd amount and that was because that way decisions had to be made. I do believe that the supreme court is something everyone looks up to and respects and if they are unable to make important decisions than they are probably losing some respect. This seems like an important decision that the supreme court should take back when they have 9 jusitices.

Rachael Howard said...

I think birth control should be covered through obamacare because there is no reason not to have it. Obamacare is part of the government and since there is separation between church and state there is no reason to not cover it. I mean we already have a population problem and birth control costs less then pregnancy so it would also be a good way to save money. Also birth control isn't only used to prevent pregnancy but also to balance hormones and prevent chronic acne. This being said, birth control can be used for a variety of other reasons other than preventing pregnancy which mean that the government shouldn't not cover birth control when it could be the best option for someone.