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BREAKING: SCOTUS Announces Split Decision on Arizona Law, Obamacare Waits


Major decision not announced today: Obamacare.  So Thursday it is, apparently.  Multiple court-watchers are suggesting that based on the rundown of which associate justices authored this session's decisions to date, it's very likely that Chief Justice Roberts will write the majority healthcare decision.  Make of that what you will.  Since he's a right-leaning jurist, this could be very good news for Obamacare opponents.  On the other hand, there's a school of thought that if the majority has voted to uphold the law, Roberts would want to exercise his prerogative to craft the opinion, perhaps to limit its scope.  We shall see.  The suspense is painful.


Major decisions announced today:

Arizona v United States - Katie has much more, but the Court threw out three big provisions of the law, but (for now) upheld its most-discussed "stop and check" provision.  It's a split decision, written by Justice Kennedy.

Miller v. Alabama - The Court held that juveniles convicted of crimes may not be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.  The 5-4 majority (authored by Justice Kagan) concluded that Alabama's law violates the Eighth Amendment.

Also, in a significant development, the Court affirmed its Citizens United decision, summarily swatting down Montana's attempt to bypass their previous ruling.  The decision was 5-4 (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas vs. Breyer Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor).

UPDATE - It has now been confirmed that Thursday will be the last day of this Supreme Court session.  The next few days are going to  be excruciating. 

UPDATE II - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, a stalwart champion of First Amendment rights, lauds the Court's Montana decision:

“In another important victory for freedom of speech, the Supreme Court has reversed the Montana Supreme Court, upholding First Amendment free speech rights that were set out in Citizens United. As I pointed out in an amicus brief that I filed in the Montana case, a review of Federal Election Commission records of independent spending supporting the eight Republican presidential candidates earlier this year showed only minimal corporate involvement in the 2012 election cycle. Not one Fortune 100 company contributed a cent to any of the eight Republican Super PACs, as of the end of March, according to FEC records. The records also showed that of the $96 million contributed to the eight Super PACs through March 31, an overwhelming 86.32 percent of that money came from individuals while only 13.68 percent came from corporations and 0.81 percent from public companies. Clearly, the much predicted corporate tsunami that critics of Citizens United warned about simply did not occur.”


UPDATE III - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hails the SB 1070 decision as "a victory for the rule of law."  It does appear, however, that much of the legislation she signed has been invalidated, with the "stop and check" provision left open for future review.  Brewer says "the heart" of the law has been upheld.

UPDATE IV - Real Clear Politics' Sean Trende speculates that the tone Justice Scalia's scathing dissent in the Arizona case might telegraph his frustration over the Obamacare decision.  Trende admits this is "thin gruel" as far as predictive analysis goes, but he points to a previous example as possible evidence to back up his theory.  When you follow that last link, recognize that the person who offered that analysis was a former Scalia clerk.  Gulp.  The point is that every single prediction you'll see between now and Thursday is pure conjecture.  To wit: after the Arizona v US oral arguments, many seasoned observers proclaimed that the government's case against SB 1070 was doomed; the courtroom discussion was just that overwhelming.  Today, the court tossed out several major parts of the law, in what looks like a (small) net win for Obama. 


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