By Robert A. Vella
The U.S. Supreme Court issued two more important rulings today, and will likely issue two more on Monday as its current session comes to an end. Monday’s announcements will decide the controversial Hobby Lobby case regarding religious exemptions for corporations who don’t want their health insurance plans to include contraception coverage for their employees, and will decide a case which could significantly damage public sector labor unions.
Here are today’s rulings:
From MSNBC – Supreme Court deals blow to Obama on recess appointments:
President Obama’s attempt to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was still technically in session was unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
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The fight goes back to 2011, when Republicans were seeking to prevent appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeking to prevent both from functioning properly. The NLRB adjudicates labor disputes, and the CPFB was set up in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis to regulate the financial institutions that helped contribute to the meltdown. Republicans weren’t just opposing particular appointments – they wanted to block the very functions the agencies were created to perform.
From ThinkProgress – The Supreme Court Just Made It Harder For Women To Exercise Their Right To Choose:
The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ abortion buffer zone law on Thursday, ruling in favor of anti-choice protesters who argued that being required to stay 35 feet away from clinic entrances is a violation of their freedom of speech. The decision rolls back a proactive policy intended to safeguard women’s access to reproductive health care in the face of persistent harassment and intimidation from abortion opponents.
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The opinion in the case acknowledges that states have a legitimate interest in passing laws to preserve access to reproductive health facilities. They’ll just have to figure out how to do it with different policies that “burden substantially less speech.” The justices write that Massachusetts hadn’t tried out enough alternatives before enacting a 35-foot zone, and could have proposed narrower solutions like passing local traffic ordinances to prevent the obstruction of clinic driveways.
Normally, this blog wouldn’t spend much time covering such technically-narrow judicial actions; however, we will continue to closely monitor the Roberts’ Court because it has proved willing to fundamentally remake society in ways which run contrary to the principles of democracy, secularism, economic fairness, and social justice.