Top 5 legal stories of 2015

Top 5 legal stories of 2015

1. Same-sex marriage comes to all fifty states. The Supreme Court has finally run out of reasons to duck this issue. Since the Sixth Circuit ruled last monththat the Constitution does not guarantee a right to same-sex marriage, there is a now a clear split in the circuits on the subject. The Justices, who earlier declined to hear challenges to appeals rulings in three circuits in favor of marriage rights, now more or less have to take the case. The liberals on the Court have been afraid to get ahead of the country on the issue, but that’s not really a concern anymore. With same-sex couples able to marry in thirty-five states, and a majority of the country (according to polls) supporting their right to do so, same-sex marriage has become mainstream, almost boring. The decision will be seen, properly, as a landmark, but the real surprise is that the reaction will be so muted. Besides, the same-sex-marriage decision will give the conservative Justices a distraction from their other big case…

2. The crippling of the Affordable Care Act. The relentless legal attacks on Obamacare will finally succeed in a big way, in the case of King v. Burwell.

In the case, the plaintiffs insist that the wording of the statute allows the government to subsidize health insurance purchased on the fourteen state-based exchanges but not on the federal exchange, which covers the remaining thirty-six states. It’s a tortured argument, but the case has become a convenient vehicle for those fighting an endless war on the law. The stakes are immense: the loss of subsidies, and probably insurance, for as many as seven million people. (Given my record on Supreme Court predictions regarding the A.C.A., supporters of the law should take some comfort.)

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