Supreme Court News Regarding Health Care Reform

Supreme Court Appoints Attorneys To Argue Healthcare Reform Case.

Reuters (11/21, Vicini) reports that the Supreme Court has appointed attorney Robert Long, a partner at Covington & Burling, to argue that lawsuits against the individual mandate requirement are not allowed because the penalty has not been established. In addition, attorney H. Bartow Far III, a partner at Farr & Taranto, will weigh in on the health insurance requirement.

CQ (11/21, Subscription Publication) reports that the attorneys were asked "to write briefs and participate in oral arguments expected in March on a lawsuit challenging the health care law." Also reporting this story are Modern Healthcare (11/19, Blesch) and The Hill (11/18, Pecquet) in its "Healthwatch" blog.

Democrats Increase Scrutiny Of Justice Thomas Ahead Of Healthcare Vote.

The Hill (11/18, Pecquet) says House Democrats, in advance of next term’s Supreme Court taking up of the new healthcare law, wrote the US Judicial Conference on Friday and urged it to request that Attorney General Holder probe Justice Thomas, who faces "scrutiny for failing to report at least $1.6 million that his wife earned from conservative interests between 1997 and 2007. The letter, spearheaded by House Rules ranking member Louise Slaughter and signed by 51 House Democrats, comes after newly released documents show Thomas properly reported his wife’s income for at least seven years before 1997." In a statement, Slaughter said, "The new details that have emerged show that Justice Thomas had a firm understanding of the steps necessary to properly disclose all information required by federal law."

        The Huffington Post (11/18, Sacks) says Slaughter’s first letter to the Judicial Conference, sent in September, "asserted that Thomas’ nondisclosures persisted ‘throughout his entire tenure of the Supreme Court,’ which began in 1991. It was fair to infer from his ‘high level of legal training and experience,’ Slaughter wrote, that the justice’s failure presented the type of ‘willful’ behavior that federal law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Department of Justice for investigation. Friday’s letter, however, states that Thomas actually did report the sources of his wife’s income until 1997, therefore heightening the inference that the justice had not ‘misunderstood the reporting instructions,’ as he asserted in January when he filed seven pages of addenda correcting his omissions over a six-year period."

Senate Republicans Say Kagan May Have To Recuse Herself. Politico (11/18, Haberkorn) says Senate Minority Leader McConnell, Minority Whip Kyl, and Sens. Charles Grassley and Mike Lee sent Attorney General Holder a letter Friday demanding that he "respond to requests for information" on whether Justice Kagan "has any conflict of interest in the health reform lawsuit the court will take up this spring." They "said Kagan’s role in the Obama administration during the passage of healthcare reform ‘may satisfy’ both requirements for justices to recuse themselves. The Republican senators said in a letter to Holder that his department has handled the questions about Kagan in a ‘highly questionable manner’ and demanded clarification on Kagan’s role." For its part, the Daily Caller (11/18, Ciaramella) quotes from the letter: "It appears that former Solicitor General Kagan’s participation in the Obama Administration’s defense of the PPACA may satisfy both requirements for recusal."