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SCOTUS rules on FCC case, still no health care decision

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The highly anticipated decision by the United States Supreme Court on health care will come another day. The justices released four opinions Thursday, which did not include the challenges to the health care law. They did decide the case before them involving the Federal Communications Commission.

The justices were asked to rule on whether the FCC’s standards for indecency on television are too vague to be constitutional. The justices sidestepped the constitutionality issue by deciding the case under the Due Process Clause. They also did not reconsider their decision in FCC. v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726.

The FCC opinion was the last one issued Thursday morning by the SCOTUS. In Federal Communications Commission, et al. v. Fox Television Stations Inc., et al., 10-1293, the majority held that because the Federal Communications Commission didn’t give Fox or ABC fair notice before the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent, the FCC’s standards as applied to these broadcasts were vague.

Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the opinion of the court to which all justices but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined. Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion and Sotomayor didn’t take part in the consideration or decision of the case.

The high court handed down three other decisions Thursday.

In a 6-3 decision authored by Sotomayor, Southern Union Co. v. United States, 11-94, the majority held that the rule of Apprendi v. New Jersey applies to the imposition of criminal fines. The Constitution requires that a jury, instead of a judge, must find beyond a reasonable doubt any fact that leads to a higher fine for a criminal defendant. The case came to the court from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Atonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan and Ginsburg joined Sotomayor’s opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, to which Kennedy and Samuel Alito joined.

In a 7-2 decision authored by Alito, the SCOTUS in Knox, et al. v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, 10-1121, reversed the 9th Circuit. The high court ruled that under the First Amendment, when a union imposes a special assessment or dues increase to meet expenses that were not disclosed when the regular assessment was set, the union must provide a new notice and may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent.

Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas joined Alito’s opinion. Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion, in which Ginsburg joined. Breyer dissented, in which Kagan joined.

The justices issued their consolidated decision in Dorsey v. United States, 11-5683, and Hill v. United States, 11-5271, both from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5-4 ruling holds that the Fair Sentencing Act’s new, lower mandatory minimums apply to the post-act sentencing of pre-act crack cocaine offenders. Breyer authored the opinion in which Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan joined. Scalia filed a dissent, to which Roberts, Thomas and Alito joined. 

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  1. Did someone not tell people who have access to the Chevy Volts that it has a gas engine and will run just like a normal car? The batteries give the Volt approximately a 40 mile range, but after that the gas engine will propel the vehicle either directly through the transmission like any other car, or gas engine recharges the batteries depending on the conditions.

  2. Catholic, Lutheran, even the Baptists nuzzling the wolf! http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-documents-reveal-obama-hhs-paid-baptist-children-family-services-182129786-four-months-housing-illegal-alien-children/ YET where is the Progressivist outcry? Silent. I wonder why?

  3. Thank you, Honorable Ladies, and thank you, TIL, for this interesting interview. The most interesting question was the last one, which drew the least response. Could it be that NFP stamps are a threat to the very foundation of our common law American legal tradition, a throwback to the continental system that facilitated differing standards of justice? A throwback to Star Chamber’s protection of the landed gentry? If TIL ever again interviews this same panel, I would recommend inviting one known for voicing socio-legal dissent for the masses, maybe Welch, maybe Ogden, maybe our own John Smith? As demographics shift and our social cohesion precipitously drops, a consistent judicial core will become more and more important so that Justice and Equal Protection and Due Process are yet guiding stars. If those stars fall from our collective social horizon (and can they be seen even now through the haze of NFP opinions?) then what glue other than more NFP decisions and TRO’s and executive orders -- all backed by more and more lethally armed praetorians – will prop up our government institutions? And if and when we do arrive at such an end … will any then dare call that tyranny? Or will the cost of such dissent be too high to justify?

  4. This is easily remedied, and in a fashion that every church sacrificing incense for its 501c3 status and/or graveling for government grants should have no problem with ..... just add this statue, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capitoline_she-wolf_Musei_Capitolini_MC1181.jpg entitled, "Jesus and Cousin John learn to suckle sustenance from the beloved Nanny State." Heckfire, the ACLU might even help move the statue in place then. And the art will certainly reflect our modern life, given the clergy's full-bellied willingness to accede to every whim of the new caesars. If any balk, just threaten to take away their government milk … they will quiet down straightaway, I assure you. Few, if any of them, are willing to cross the ruling elite as did the real J&J

  5. Tina has left the building.

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