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Supreme Court 2013-2014 Term Preview: Here are the Big Ones

Thanks to the Legal Information Institute for the information.

Campaign Finance

As we noted in our blog post on the topic, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission will decide whether aggregate campaign, committee, and party contribution limits are constitutional. In the 2012 election, plaintiff McCutcheon wanted to donate $25,000 to three committees and make maximum contributions each to 28 federal candidates, donations that would have violated the $70,800 net limit on committee donations and $46,000 net donation limit for candidates. Overturning biennial limits would allowing McCutcheon to donate to a higher number of candidates or organizations. This case has the potential to erode campaign finance regulation that was already hobbled by Citizens United. A ruling against aggregate contribution limits would lay the groundwork for the elimination of candidate contribution limits, which would effectively eliminate the average American from the political conversation.

Affirmative Action

Unlike the recent Fisher v. University of Texas case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action will decide whether Michigan’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting public universities and schools from using race-conscious admissions processes violates the Equal Protection Clause. Also under consideration is the “political restructuring doctrine,” which the Court has previously relied on to prevent placing onerous burdens on minorities seeking change through the political process. Even in an era where social class and race have dramatic effects on one’s educational opportunities and schools are more segregated than during Brown v. Board of Education, affirmative action policies seem to be constantly under fire.

Legislative Prayer

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, plaintiffs Galloway and Stephens argue that a town’s practice of beginning its Town Board meetings with a prayer unconstitutionally coerces them to participate in sectarian prayer. A lower court agreed that the practice violates the Establishment Clause. In McCullen v. Coakley, Massachusetts’ selective exclusion law is under the fire. The law prohibits individuals other than employees or agents from entering a 35-foot “buffer zone” around reproductive health care clinics. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the regulation, saying that it balances the state’s interest in protecting prospective patients and employees with the First Amendment rights of others.

Stay tuned for developments — we’ll be keeping close tabs on these cases.

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Rachel Maddow Hammers GOP Infantilism

Rachel Maddow takes a moment to compare the GOP's childishness this week with that displayed during the 1995 shutdown, when Newt Gingrich admitted that a "snub" by President Clinton on a plane (Clinton and two former U.S. presidents sat in the front, where Newt was not allowed) led to Republicans "sending down a tougher budget resolution." Our most recent sensitive GOP star is Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), who was quoted this week as saying the following: “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of [the shutdown]. And I don’t know what that even is.” Looks like there might be a pattern here: for some Republicans, perceived personal affronts or a lack of "respect" can prove powerful enough to justify shutting down the entire government. 

Obama's response

"You have already gotten the opportunity to serve the American people. There's no higher honor than that. You've already gotten the opportunity to help businesses like this one. Workers like these. So the American people aren't in the mood to give you a goody bag to go with it. What you get is our intelligence professionals being back on the job. What you get is our medical researchers back on the job. What you get are little kids back in Head Start."

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Interviews Show That Some Think "Obamacare" and the ACA are... Totally Different?

In an interesting experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel Live, interviewers asked passersby if they supported "Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act." While it's slightly painful to watch respondents try to justify why they hate Obamacare but love the Affordable Care Act, there's a silver lining: participants informed of what the ACA actually does confirm that they support it. 

Republicans caught on to this phenomenon, which is why they were so desperate to sabotage the ACA before enrollment opened today; they know that once Americans find out what it does for them... they'll like it

 

P.S. Are you frustrated about the shutdown? Don't get mad, organize. Find out how you can get involved. 

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