quarta-feira, 18 de abril de 2012

Legal English: The Case in 100 Words

Health Care Reform in 100 Words
  The constitutionality of the Obama health care reform has been challenged in several lawsuits.  Three district judges have ruled the reform constitutional.  Two others, in Florida and Virginia, have ruled it invalid.
  At issue is a mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, and whether it goes beyond the authority granted the Federal Government by the Commerce Clause of the constitution.
  26 states, plaintiffs in the Florida case, also argue that the reform commandeers them into expanding Medicaid and absorbing the cost.  The judge ruled against that claim, but held the entire reform scheme unconstitutional because of the individual mandate.

OBAMACARE IN 164 words
(from http://www.healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief.php?brief_id=54)

Following enactment of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, approximately 30 lawsuits were filed in federal courts by state governments, organizations, lawmakers, and private citizens challenging various aspects of the law. Most sought to overturn it on the grounds that certain provisions were unconstitutional.

The central argument in these cases has been that the law's "minimum coverage requirement," popularly called the individual health insurance mandate, exceeds the scope of the US Constitution's commerce clause. This is the constitutional provision that gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

To date, 10 lawsuits have been decided by US District Court judges. Seven of these were to uphold the constitutionality of the health care law, and three have ruled that all or part of the law is unconstitutional. At least nine other cases have been dismissed for lack of standing or for other reasons. Of the approximately 19 cases that have been decided or dismissed, nine have been appealed to various US Courts of Appeals.


Obama's DOMA Policy
President Obama has directed the DOJ to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.  The President has made the determination that DOMA Section 3, which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legal under state law for the purposes of granting federal benefits, violates the Equal Protection Clause.
In a letter communicating the policy shift to Congress, the Attorney General reasons that in jurisdictions without a binding precedent for a rational-basis standard in reviewing classifications based on sexual orientation, the government is unable to defend the law.  That is so because the President concludes that heightened scrutiny should apply.

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