June 21, 2012

It's nerve-wracking waiting for the Supreme Court this morning.

We don't know if the health-care case will come out in a few minutes, but it might. Here are descriptions of the cases that might be announced today.

And here's where to read about the announcements as close as you can get to real time, with SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE 1: Alito has the opinion in Knox v. SEIU, which is about requiring state workers to pay for the union's political speech. The union lost in a 6-3 decision. There is a free-speech right to opt out. [Here's the PDF.]

UPDATE 2: There's a decision in the case about the new lower sentences for crack cocaine — applying it to sentences imposed after the Act was passed or crimes committed before the Act. This is a Breyer opinion, with 4 dissenting votes.

UPDATE 3: FCC v. Fox opinion written by Justice Kennedy. This is the case about the FCC's rules on "fleeting expletives," which were challenged as vague. "The decision is very narrow. The analysis section of the opinion is only 5 pages long. It says simply that the FCC didn't give advance notice. It doesn't decide the big questions of the constitutionality of the current policy." So it's not a decision on the free speech issue.

UPDATE 4: The excitement is over. The cases we are so nervous about will wait until next week. Relax!

32 comments:

ndspinelli said...

Then, have a beer.

BarryD said...

Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.

Scott M said...

Umm...I don't recommend sitting there and watching that liveblog scroll. It is indeed nerve-wracking. And I thought she was kidding...

Ann Althouse said...

I'm just sitting here watching the live scroll. It's making me extremely nervous!

Patrick said...

Thanks for that link. It really, rally increases the drama!

Patrick said...

I'm not the only one, apparently.

Patrick said...

Based onthe comments of junior justices releasing their opinions first, if it's the Healthcare opinion, it won't be Justices Sotomayor or Kagan.

Jay said...

When the unions lose, it is a good day for America.

traditionalguy said...

Does in-trade have an over under on this?


The AARP has been running ads like crazy about being on the side of the 65+ guys. Medicare must be about to hit the fan in DC again.

Scott M said...

I sent to Amy: "Is there any known record of the Justices bringing in drama consultants when they set up the protocols for decision releases?"

She didn't post it.

Patrick said...

No health care opinion

fleetusa said...

Nervous! me too!

thanks for the link to the live scroll.

Monday might be the big day...time for more b.s. from talking heads.

Scott M said...

No health care opinion

Yes, but can I drop a fleeting fuck or show side-boob on network television?

That's the nerve-wracker.

Larry J said...

I'm certain the ObamaCare decisions will be the very last ones announced for this session because they're so controversial. When is the last day for announcements? That's the day to be nervous.

edutcher said...

As my sister used to say, "I hate suspense. It's so suspenseful".

Ann Althouse said...

I'm just sitting here watching the live scroll. It's making me extremely nervous!

Meade busy?

PS Last day is the 25th.

136th anniversary of Little Bighorn, if you're into such things.

Tim said...

Lives to die another day.

Just as long as it dies.

Christopher in MA said...

They nearly crashed SCOTUSBlog - over 70,000 people on line.

I'm with Larry - Obamacare is going to be the last case on the last day, because the Supremes are going to want to get the hell out of Dodge no matter which way the ruling goes.

And good for the SEIU suckerpunch. Garage must be crying in his wheaties this morning.

Glenn Howes said...

Perhaps Professor Althouse could comment on the ramifications of the Knox case. Does it require that members of public employees unions check a box agreeing to having dues withheld for political and other ideological purposes?

Does it set a standard for what constitutes political and ideological purposes? The opinion specifically calls out the SEIU for categorizing "lobbying the electorate" as non-political. I'm wondering if this opinion will be further extended to how unions direct their retirement funds to push companies in an ideological direction.

Scott M said...

136th anniversary of Little Bighorn, if you're into such things.

"Captain Custer, this is Captain Sitting Bull. Captain Sitting Bull, this is Captain Custer. As the visitors, Captain Custer gets to call it (flips a large coin). Custer calls heads, it's tails. You lose the toss, Captain Custer. Captain Sitting Bull, what do you want to do?

Captain Sitting Bull says that Captain Custer must put all your men in a circle while every Indian in the world rides right down on top of you."

edutcher said...

Scott ,one of Cos' first bits and one of his best.

Ann Althouse said...

UPDATE 4: The excitement is over. The cases we are so nervous about will wait until next week. Relax!

Need a cigarette?

Original Mike said...

Captain Washington, your men may wear camouflage and shoot from behind rocks and trees. Captain Cornwallis, your men must stand in the open and wear red.

edutcher said...

Original Mike said...

Captain Washington, your men may wear camouflage and shoot from behind rocks and trees

Your men may wear any color clothes they want.

FIFY

Original Mike said...

Hey, it's been 40 years.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm hoping for a one two punch to Obama's ego next week.

House holds Holder in contempt. ONE. Supreme Court knocks down Obamacare. TWO!!!

Let it be so.

Scott M said...

Let it be so.

It could be the best week since the one where Air America went off the air and Scott Brown won that special election for "Teddy's seat".

I found the 7-2 decision against SEIU interesting. If you're a union boss anon, you've got to be thinking, "Shit, I better spruce up the resume and hope I can find a closed-shop business that's still open"

Steve Koch said...

No doubt it will be the last case on the last day and then off to vacation somewhere very remote and inaccessible. Is there a back door to the Supreme Court? The supreme court justices who overturn ObamaCare better have an escape planned out before they deliver the decision.

Richard Dolan said...

Knox was the only interesting case today, and more for what it portends than what it did. Once again, First Amendment rights got a broad reading from this Court.

The facts of the case framed a narrow issue, turning on a special assessment by SEIU that the union announced was to be used for political purposes. The Court's prior cases in the union/compulsory fee context had dealt with annual assessments covering all union operations (both collective bargaining activities and advocacy activities, etc.), where the Court had accepted but never really addressed the opt-out arrangements for the 'advocacy' portion of the fees that raised First Amendment problems. In those cases, the fact pattern was typically a union's setting the annual membership fee that union members must pay, and then for non-members allocating the fee between collective bargaining activities for which non-members may be required to pay an agency fee, and other union activities for which non-members could not be forced to pay. Objecting non-members had to affirmatively opt-out of those 'advocacy' fees if the didn't want to pay them. And the Court's prior cases allowed the union to use its prior year's expenses as the basis for making that allocation for the upcoming year. Non-members who objected to the allocation had the burden of showing that the union allocated too much to the collective bargaining activities.

That was, in quick summary, the lay of the land going into this case. In addressing the special assessment presented by the SEIU's actions, the Court held that, before the union could collect the special assessment, it needed the express consent of non-members who were required to pay union agency fees. In short, opt-in rather than opt-out was the rule for this context.

This was the first case to hold that opt-in rather than opt-out is required by the First Amendment in a closed shop involving government employment for any union fees that non-members must pay for the political advocacy operations of unions. I think the facts of the case -- particularly the concession from the get-go that the special assessment was only for political purposes -- foreordained a result against the SEIU, but not the breadth of the opinion's rationale. The SEIU didn't help itself by offering an obviously inadequate 'refund' remedy, in support of a mootness argument the Court quickly batted aside.

There was a lot of dramatic foreshadowing in Justice Alito's opinion that an opt-in procedure may soon be required for any compulsory fees paid to unions by non-members for services unrelated to compulsory bargaining. The Court didn't question the 'free rider' argument for requiring such agency fees from non-members, but suggested strongly that the burden should be on the union to establish the allocation between required fees and optional advocacy expenditures, and that doubts must be resolved against the party not having any constitutional rights at stake (i.e., the union) at all stages of that process.

Stay tuned. There will clearly be lots of follow-own cases fleshing out how far the Court will take the First Amendment rationale in this case. In states where GOv Walker's effort to rein in public employee unions is not feasible, this decision will provide an alternative means of trying to control the unions' use of compulsory dues to influence the political process.

Jeff in Oklahoma said...

The SEIU just got slapped:

This aggressive use of power by the SEIU to collect fees from nonmembers isindefensible.

It has been a bad year to be a public union boss.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


There was a lot of dramatic foreshadowing in Justice Alito's opinion that an opt-in procedure may soon be required for any compulsory fees paid to unions by non-members for services unrelated to compulsory bargaining.


That is very good to hear. The ability of the Union to force you to pay dues whether you want to join or not and THEN use some of those funds for advancing political candidates and political agendas that you do not agree with, just doesn't seem right.

They should be able to distinguish between the funds for union activities that are 'job' related (wages, working conditions etc) and those funds that are promotional and politically oriented.

Larry J said...

That is very good to hear. The ability of the Union to force you to pay dues whether you want to join or not and THEN use some of those funds for advancing political candidates and political agendas that you do not agree with, just doesn't seem right.

Being forced to join a union against your will doesn't seem right, either. I've heard that about 30-35% of union members are Republicans yet nearly 100% of union political donations go to Democrats.

mccullough said...

If the healthcare decision isn't released Monday, then the mandate was struck down and the opinion will be released next Thursday. The immigration decision will be Monday.

Jose_K said...

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