Washington (CNN) – The Justice Department is scrambling to meet a federal court's Thursday deadline to answer fundamental constitutional questions dealing with the health care law championed by President Barack Obama, an escalating political battle that has embroiled all three branches of government.
Administration officials said Wednesday they were deciding how to respond to an order from a three-judge appeals panel hearing a separate challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Department lawyers were told to explain whether federal courts could intervene and strike down congressional laws as unconstitutional. Such a power has been guaranteed since the Supreme Court's landmark 1803 ruling in Marbury v. Madison.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - An ongoing political dispute over the Obama administration's new mandate on contraceptive coverage has reached the federal courts, with the Justice Department on Friday urging judges to stay out of the controversy until a compromise can be worked out.
At issue is whether religious institutions should be exempt from mandated employee coverage for birth control and other reproductive care. A North Carolina college has sued, saying it should not be obligated to provide such services in violation of its religious beliefs.FULL STORY
(CNN) - A federal court in Richmond, Virginia, is scheduled to conduct the nation's first appellate review of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul Tuesday, giving the controversial legislation a major legal test.
Federal judges across the country have been divided over the constitutionality of the law's "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court has blocked for now a state election law that gives "matching funds" to help underfunded candidates in Arizona.
The justices, in a brief order Tuesday, temporarily told state officials not to distribute money under the Clean Elections law, which provides extra, taxpayer-funded support for office seekers who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or by independent political groups.
A federal appeals court in April approved parts of the sweeping campaign reform law. A group of mostly conservative groups –including several current and former Republican state legislators - filed the emergency appeal with the high court, saying their free speech rights were being hurt, and their private fundraising efforts would be stifled because of public election financing. They have succeeded in their efforts for now, while state campaigning is under way in an election year.
The Supreme Court's order allows a more thorough, detailed appeal to be filed in coming weeks by supporters of the law. There was no indication when the plaintiffs would seek to file such an petition.
The case is McComish v. Bennett (09A1163).
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration faced tough questions Wednesday from conservative justices at the Supreme Court asking whether a
powerful enforcement tool in the landmark Voting Rights Act is still needed to fight discrimination.
In one of the biggest case this term, a majority of the bench appeared poised to strike down - at least in part - the "preclearance" provision of the 1965 law that provides continuing federal control over election practices in 16 states identified as needing oversight, based on past discrimination against minority voters.
Other states are not covered by the provision even if they, too, discriminate against minority voters. Other enforcement tools, however, may be available.
At issue is whether Congress in 2006 properly extended the law - whose Section 5 mandates that the covered states get advance approval of changes in how their elections are conducted - or whether the country has made enough progress on racial equality to make continued federal oversight essentially unnecessary. A ruling is expected in two months.