U.S. Supreme Court: Same Sex Marriage, ACA, Housing Act

Washington, D.C. -- A crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Supreme Court as justices hear oral arguments on same-sex marriage. (Photo Credit: Anthony J. Rivera)

The U.S. Supreme Court released three major rulings this week. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
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Same sex couples across the country are celebrating Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. In one of a series of major decisions this week, the Court struck down state bans on same sex marriage saying the 14th amendment requires all U.S. states to issue licenses and recognize weddings conducted elsewhere.

In another decision hailed by civil rights advocates, the High Court also ruled on equality in housing, saying that intent or bias is not necessary to prove racial discrimination — only that a given policy or practice has a “disparate effect” on minorities.

And in its highly anticipated decision on the Affordable Care Act, Justices upheld the law’s key provision: federal subsidies for insurance premiums. The decision in King v. Burwell is a major win for the White House. The case hinged on whether federal subsidies to offset the cost of health insurance in states that didn’t set up their own health care markets – or exchanges – are lawful. The Court said the spirit of the law is clear: federal subsidies for all.

President Obama lauded the ruling: “Today after more than 50 votes in congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court– the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

It’s the second time the Court has upheld the law commonly called Obamacare. Dr. Margaret Flowers — a pediatrician, co-Director of PopularResistance.org and an adviser to the Board for Physicians for a National Health Program — says while the decision is a victory for more than 6 million insured Americans in more than 30 states, it’s also a major coup for the insurance industry.

“Of course, while overall we don’t support the Affordable Care Act because its not a real solution we would be, you know its devastating to take access to health care away from people and the reality is that in in the United States people with private health insurance do have some better access to health care than those who do not,” Dr. Flowers said, but added that protecting the subsisdy also protects the bottom-line for insurers. “In terms of insurance companies this is a big win for them as well because they very clear from the beginning of the negotiations of the Affordable Care Act that they needed a requirement that every body buy insurance and they needed federal subsidies in order to make those insurance premiums affordable to people to buy their insurance product. So in effect each year we are turning over hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars directly to the private insurance companies.”

Three more decisions are pending from the Court this session: one on redistricting in Arizona, another on mercury and the Clean Air Act and the third on executions by lethal injection. All three are expected Monday.

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