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Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 3:33 pm

By Adam Liptak

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reflects on the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, she sees an inconsistency.

In its gay rights rulings, she told a law school audience last week, the court uses the soaring language of “equal dignity” and has endorsed the fundamental values of “liberty and equality.” Indeed, a court that just three decades ago allowed criminal prosecutions for gay sex now speaks with sympathy for gay families and seems on the cusp of embracing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

But in cases involving gender, she said, the court has never fully embraced “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” She said the court’s five-justice conservative majority, all men, did not understand the challenges women face in achieving authentic equality.

Justice Ginsburg is not the only one who has sensed that cases involving gay people and women are on different trajectories.



Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 9:01 am

SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA

In a historic victory for same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the court ruled that DOMA is an unconstitutional deprivation of equal liberty, a violation of the Fifth Amendment. The ruling will allow federal benefits–tax breaks, insurance for government employees–to couples in the 12 states and D.C. (13 states now that California’s Proposition 8 has been dismissed) that already recognize same-sex marriage.
Read it at SCOTUSBlog

June 26, 2013 9:50 AM

It’s a great day for the USA.



Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 6:55 pm

Gene patent decision: In Plain English

The Supreme Court long ago ruled that an inventor who discovers a phenomenon in nature, or figures out a “law of nature,” cannot get an exclusive right to use or sell that by obtaining a patent from the federal government.  Natural phenomena are the basic tools with which every would-be inventor starts, so locking up the right to use them in a monopoly held by a specific patent owner will frustrate others who might want to look for new ways to interpret that phenomena, the Court has said.

The exclusion of natural substances from eligibility for patents was the theory on which the Court relied Thursday in its unanimous ruling that a company cannot get a patent monopoly on the use and study of human genes that it isolates in the bloodstream, and them takes them out — without changing their natural character — for research.

The case involved a Utah company’s patent for having isolated, outside the human body, two basic genes that contain natural phenomena which suggest that a woman who has them is at significantly higher risk of developing either breast cancer or ovarian cancer.   The company had claimed that the act of locating these genes in blood, and then extracting them for study, was a true invention, something that did not exist before.

The Court said the company actually did not create anything at all, but simply extracted the genetic material from its location in human blood, and setting it apart for study.

The Court, however, said that the company might be eligible to get a patent when it created a synthetic form of those genes — in other words, a laboratory imitation of them.   Such imitations, according to the ruling, do not exist in nature, and so do not run counter to the rule against patenting nature.



Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 1:15 pm


Kyle Seiler sent me the following which explains the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so that we can understand it.
What people call “Obamacare” is actually the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, people were calling it “Obamacare” before everyone even hammered out what it would be. It’s a term mostly used by people who don’t like the PPACA, and it’s become popularized in part because PPACA is a really long and awkward name, even when you turn it into an acronym like that.

Anyway, the PPACA made a bunch of new rules regarding health care, with the purpose of making health care more affordable for everyone. Opponents of the PPACA, on the other hand, feel that the rules it makes take away too many freedoms and force people (both individuals and businesses) to do things they shouldn’t have to.

So what does it do? Well, here is everything, in the order of when it goes into effect (because some of it happens later than other parts of it):

Click here to read the entire article from


Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 9:12 am


In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Health Care Act.  Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the majority and saved it.   Along with Roberts,  Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsberg, and Breyer voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as a tax, requiring almost all Americans to buy health insurance. Justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy voted to strike it down.  The Kennedy and Roberts votes surprised me.

The Supreme Court decision means women will be charged the same as men for health care insurance (instead of more), children can stay on their parent’s plan and no one can be denied health care because of a preexisting condition.

The decision is an individual mandate in that everyone is required to carry health insurance and if you don’t have it,  the government can tax you as they now do for flood insurance, et al.

The decision is an absolute victory for the administration and Democrats.  This law now stands and it is believed Republicans can’t muster enough votes to demolish it.

Stay tuned…


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