Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
Two of the Midwest’s governors recently signed bipartisan legislation to overhaul aspects of their states’ criminal justice systems.

As plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, are under construction, states face the possibility of losing significant federal funding for their Medicaid programs.

The implementation of the Medicaid expansion through the ACA, established access to healthcare for low-income adults who were not previously eligible. Specifically, nonelderly adults with an income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level— about $16,394 for an individual in 2016—gained access to coverage. As a result,...

A federal district court has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the Trump administration from enforcing the sanctuary jurisdictions portion of the Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States executive order (EO).

The court was asked to accept two very different versions of what this EO means to determine whether it had jurisdiction to hear this case. The most important dispute between the parties is how much federal funding is on the line. The judge chose the Santa Clara and San Francisco version accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) of trying to “read out all of Section 9(a)’s unconstitutional directives to render it an ominous, misleading, and ultimately toothless threat.”

Justice Gorsuch is certainly aware of that fact that his confirmation was one of the most political in recent memory. Only time, and perhaps his idiosyncrasies on the bench, will tell us whether, like Chief Justice Roberts, he is concerned about the Court being perceived as apolitical.  

It is difficult for those of us who treasure our democracy and our legal system in particular to accept the notion that Supreme Court Justices (and even regular old judges) are chosen for political reasons. We want to believe that our judges dole out the law evenly, intelligently, and objectively and are picked based on their perceived ability to do so--with justice as the end result.

But beyond the thin veneer of choosing someone with stellar academic credentials who has had an impressive legal career, politics always looms large in the selection of Supreme Court Justices. This is as much because a President doesn’t want to see measures he worked on overturned and wants his political party to succeed, as it is that Supreme Court Justices are a key part of a President’s legacy. A 49-year-old Justice like Gorsuch may sit on the Court for 30 years.   

Senator Michael Padilla

As a student, New Mexico senator Michael Padilla had to mop floors, clean tables, and set up chairs in order to receive his lunch. This type of “lunch shaming” is what New Mexico’s SB 374 or Hunger Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act seeks to eliminate from public schools.

In Nelson v. Colorado the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado law requiring defendants whose criminal convictions have been invalidated to prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence in order to receive a refund of fees, court costs, and restitution. According to the Court in a 7-1 opinion, this scheme violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process.

Shannon Nelson was convicted on a number of charges from the alleged sexual and physical abuse of her children. Her conviction was reversed due to a trial court error; a new jury acquitted her of all charges. Louis Alanzo Madden was convicted of two sex crimes. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed his conviction; the state did not appeal or retry the case.

The only way Nelson or Madden could recover fees, court costs, and restitution was filing a civil claim under Colorado’s Exoneration Act, which requires them to show by clear and convincing evidence their actual innocence.

In Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) asked the Supreme Court in its amicus brief to rule that Chevron deference does not apply when an agency is construing the scope of a statute’s preemption provision, absent Congress’s assent. The Court didn’t rule on (or even discuss) this issue in its brief, unanimous opinion.

The Court held that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) preemption clause overrides state laws prohibiting subrogation and reimbursement and that the preemption clause is consistent with the Supremacy Clause.    

President Trump has proposed several options for tax reform, including significant changes to personal income taxes. According to recent analysis by the...

The New York legislature passed a bill enacting the Excelsior Scholarship on April 7th. The program, designed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, provides tuition-free college at New York public universities to families making up to $125,000 a year. Although other states offer free community college, New York is the first state to fully subsidize tuition at both two and four-year universities.

Artis v. District of Columbia might not have gotten a second look if it didn’t involve a city—but even if it had been brought against a non-government entity it would still affect any entity that gets sued regularly—including states and local governments.

In this case a year after the fact, Stephanie Artis sued the District of Columbia in federal court bringing a number of federal and state law claims related to her termination as a code inspector. It took the federal district court over two and a half years to rule on her claims. It dismissed her sole federal claim as “facially deficient” and no longer had jurisdiction to decide the state law claims.

28 U.S.C 1367(d) states that statutes of limitations for state law claims pending in federal court shall be “tolled” for a period of 30 days after they are dismissed (unless state law provides a longer tolling period).

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