As you have likely heard by now, the Supreme Court will almost certainly announce its decisions in the health care cases on Thursday morning. I, along with everyone else, will be following SCOTUSblog’s excellent live-blog coverage of the morning’s announcements to see what happens. If you’re interested, tune in a little before 10 am at this link. It is likely, but not certain, that Chief Justice Roberts will be delivering the Court’s opinion, which means it will be one of the last decisions announced (announcements go in reverse order of seniority, and the Chief is automatically the most senior Justice).
The Court did hand down two fairly important decisions today. One, an unsigned one-page “per curiam” (“for the court”) opinion, summarily rejected Montana’s effort to restrict corporate spending in its state elections notwithstanding Citizens United. The Court’s gang of five obviously had no interest in the argument that, as a factual matter, local conditions could demonstrate a connection between corruption and corporate contributions. As a result, there is no likelihood that the Court will reconsider or refine Citizens United until one of the conservative Justices leaves the Court – the four “liberals” seem prepared to reconsider and perhaps limit or overrule it as soon as they have the chance, but that won’t happen without a change in membership.
The other, of course, is the decision rejecting large parts of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. Basically, the Court held that several provisions of the law – those that (1) made it a state crime to fail to comply with federal immigration law, (2) made it a state crime for an undocumented immigrant to seek or obtain employment in the state, and (3) allowed state officers to arrest someone whom they believe to be out of compliance with federal immigration law – were invalid because they were preempted by federal immigration law. The Court allowed the controversial “papers please” section – which basically says that state officers should attempt to verify the immigration status of someone whom they have stopped for another offense – to proceed, but noted that it was doing so because it had not yet been implemented in Arizona nor construed by the state courts. The Court unanimously rejected the US government’s argument that the provision was preempted on its face, so that appears not to have been a strong argument. The Court did not consider anything about possible racial profiling or other aspects of the provision, all of which remains subject to later litigation.
Different sides will attempt to spin the Arizona decision different ways, but the angry dissenting opinions from Justices Thomas, Alito, and especially Scalia – none of whom joined each other’s opinion, since they apparently couldn’t agree on a rationale – tell you most of what you need to know in terms of which side “won.” There is interesting commentary from various perspectives at SCOTUSblog, and I’m sure elsewhere too.