The Supreme Court – June 17, 2021 | Dorsey & Whitney LLP
California v. Texas, Nos. 19-840, 19-1019: The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, as it is commonly known, requires individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage. As originally enacted, the law imposed a financial penalty if a person failed to maintain the minimum level of health insurance coverage, a penalty that was collected with the person’s tax return and enforced by the individual. ‘IRS. In the first major challenge to the individual mandate, the Supreme Court ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius, 567 US 519 (2012), that the penalty was a tax and that the individual mandate and penalty were therefore constitutional under the taxing power of Congress. In 2017, however, Congress lowered the penalty to $ 0. The plaintiffs – several states and individuals – then brought an action to have the individual mandate declared unconstitutional, arguing that because the penalty no longer increased revenue, it was no longer a tax and the mandate individual could no longer be maintained under the taxing power of Congress. The applicants further argued that the individual retainer was not severable from the Act and that, therefore, the entire Act should be quashed. Today, in an opinion from Judge Breyer, the Court ruled 7-2 that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the individual mandate as amended by Congress in 2017. Regarding the individual plaintiffs, the Court held that although they ostensibly incurred costs to maintain health insurance. due to the individual retainer, individual applicants could not indicate sufficient prejudice attributable to the threat or the reality of the individual retainer enforcement. Because the penalty is $ 0, the court explained, the individual warrant is unenforceable and there is no government action that could injure individual claimants enough to confer standing. The same goes for state claimants, the court ruled. State complainants were unable to point to any actual or threatened application of the individual mandate that prompted individuals to enroll in state benefit programs that individuals would otherwise forgo. In addition, the court ruled that state claimants lacked standing to challenge the individual warrant, although other provisions of the law may be enforceable and impose costs on state claimants. Judge Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Judge Alito, joined by Judge Gorsuch, filed a dissenting opinion, stating that he would conclude that the state’s claimants have standing, that the individual warrant is unconstitutional, and therefore the law should be struck down in its entirety.
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Fulton v. City of philadelphia, No. 19-123: The City of Philadelphia enters into annual contracts with private foster care agencies to place some of the city’s foster children with foster families. Private reception agencies assess potential families and, in doing so, take into account statutory criteria, including existing family relationships and the family’s ability to care for and raise the child. The private foster care agency then has the responsibility to approve, disapprove or provisionally approve the potential family. Catholic Social Services (CSS), a private hospitality organization, has been providing these services to the City for over 50 years. Although no same-sex married couple has ever approached CSS for approval, CSS has indicated that it will not certify any same-sex married couple because, according to CSS, this would be an approval of same-sex marriage and a violation of the CSS. religious views that marriage is between a man and a woman. Upon learning that CSS would not certify same-sex married couples, the City informed CSS that such a refusal would constitute a violation, among other things, of a non-discrimination provision of their contract and that the City would no longer make referrals to CSS or enter into other contracts with CSS, unless CSS has agreed to certify same-sex married couples. CSS filed a lawsuit, arguing that freezing the city’s contractual references violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. The District Court and the Third Circuit, however, upheld the contract as “neutral and generally enforceable” under Division of Employment c. Smith, 494 US 872 (1990). Today, in an opinion from Chief Justice Roberts, the court overturned, ruling that the city had obstructed the religious exercise of CSS and violated CSS’s rights under the free exercise clause. The Court concluded, inter alia, that the contract was not “generally applicable” under Black-smith because it contained a system of entirely discretionary exemptions from the City’s non-discrimination requirements. The Court further concluded that the City offered no compelling reason to deny exemptions to CSS, while making them available to others, and therefore the City’s decision to deny an exemption to CSS could not survive a meticulous examination. Barrett J. delivered a concurring opinion, agreeing with the conclusion of the Court that it was not necessary in this case to consider whether to set aside Black-smith. Justices Alito and Gorsuch both filed opinions concurring with the judgment, but arguing that the court should have accepted CSS’s invitation to quash Black-smith.
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Nestlé USA Inc. v. Doe, Nos. 19-416, 19-453: The complainants — six individuals from Mali — allege that they were trafficked as child slaves on cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire, an African country of the West responsible for the majority of the world’s cocoa supply. The defendants — Nestlé USA Inc. and Cargill Inc. — are US-based companies that buy, process and sell cocoa. While the defendants did not own or operate the cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire on which the plaintiffs were allegedly enslaved, the defendants purchased cocoa from these farms and provided technical and financial assistance in exchange for the right. exclusive to buy cocoa. The plaintiffs sued the defendants for aiding and abetting their enslavement, alleging that the defendants knew or should have known that the farms exploited children. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ action on the grounds that the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a law which gives federal courts jurisdiction to hear certain civil actions brought by foreigners, does not apply to the extraterritorial conduct. The Ninth Circuit, however, reinstated the plaintiffs ‘prosecution, finding that the plaintiffs had pleaded sufficient national conduct because the plaintiffs argued that the defendants’ funding decisions were made in the United States. Today, in an opinion from Judge Thomas, the Court struck down the Ninth Circuit. The plaintiffs, according to the court, did not allege more domestic conduct of the defendants than the general activity of the company. This was not enough to support the plaintiffs’ claim, the court found, particularly in light of the fact that nearly all of the behavior the plaintiffs alleged aided and abetted their enslavement occurred abroad. The final part of Justice Thomas ‘opinion, joined only by Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh, argued that the Court cannot recognize a new cause of action under the ATS to support the plaintiffs’ prosecution. and that, for this additional and independent reason, the prosecution of the plaintiffs fails. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, noting his agreement with Justice Thomas that the courts should not have the discretion to recognize new causes of action under the ATS. Judge Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring with the judgment. Justice Sotomayor argued, unlike Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch, that the Court’s precedents and the text and history of the ATS allow courts to recognize new causes of action. Judge Alito filed a dissenting opinion, saying the court sidestepped the main question posed by the certiorari motions, namely whether domestic companies are immune from liability under the ATS. Judge Alito said he would answer this question in the negative and send him back for further proceedings.
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