The U.S. Supreme Court is rendering their decisions on closely watched cases that have the ability to change the laws of states, the laws of the nation and the lives of millions of Americans over the next two days.
One of those decisions was announced earlier this morning (June 25), when a majority of the Court decided to uphold a questionable section of the Affordable Care Act, long seen as President Barack Obama’s single domestic achievement and the bane of many in the Republican Party.
The vote was 6-3 to confirm the law’s text that many believed to be too ambiguous to understand. In question was whether the federal government overstepped their boundaries by providing subsidies to Americans living in states without health care exchanges, as the law requires. The literal text of the law – “as established by the State” – was the piece in question; many interpreted this to mean that the state was the sole authority to provide the subsidies and would decide if exchanges should be created. The Obama administration and the Supreme Court both felt differently, as both interpreted “the State” to mean the nation’s government.
Now, many will be looking to hear more decisions from the Court on June 26 and June 29, the last two days the Justices are in session. Five more cases will be decided, including the Court’s answer to whether or not states can ban same sex marriage from occurring in their perimeters.
According to Business Insider, the Justices will have to answer two questions to decide this case:
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?
There are many ways for this decision to go, but scholars suspect that the four liberal Justices will answer ‘Yes’ to both questions, meaning same sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states. The four conservative Justices are expected to answer ‘No’, as they believe that the federal government cannot undo laws that the citizens of a state have lawfully voted in favor of, as is the case for the remaining states that do not allow same sex marriage to occur. This leaves Justice Anthony Kennedy, long believed to be the lone swing vote on the Court. In the past, he has ruled in favor of same sex couples, including the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act two years ago.
Other cases to be decided include whether or not states can set up independent commissioners to for the redistricting of seats in the U.S. House and state elections. All of the remaining cases will be decided tomorrow or Monday.