ScotusBlog will liveblog the Supremes' announcements of decisions this morning. The liveblog will begin at 9:15 am, with the Court airing its rulings beginning at 10 am. The two cases to be announced are Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn. There was some discussion here yesterday about Harris; also, in today's Comments, P.D. Pepe links this New Republic piece on Harris by Taylor Malmsheimer. ...
... Update: Both decision by Alito. So there you go. Five-four vote on Harris with the liberals dissenting. The decision & dissent are here. Alito reads summary from the bench.
... Update 2: Hobby Lobby: 5-4 ruling. Closely-held corps can't be required to provide contraceptive coverage. "Kennedy's concurring opinion says that the government could pay for the coverage itself, so that women receive it." Three dissents: (1) Ginsburg joined by Sotomayor & partially by Breyer & Kagan, each of whom write separate dissenting opinions who filed together. "Alito reads summary from the bench. "It is extremely likely that the Obama administration will by regulation provide for the government to pay for the coverage. So it is unlikely that there will be a substantial gap in coverage." -- Tom Goldstien of ScotusBlog. "Kennedy's opinion emphasizes that in this particular case, a mechanism for accommodating employers is 'already in place' so that the majority opinion does not require the Govt to create 'a whole new program or burden on the Govt'." -- Kevin Russell of ScotusBlog. Ginsburg is reading from her dissent. The decision & dissents on Hobby Lobby are here. ...
... AP: "The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover the union's costs of collective bargaining. In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take." ...
... Some Corporations Are People, My Friend. Jason Millman of the Washington Post: "The federal government can't force owners of closely held for-profit companies to provide birth control coverage to female employees if they object to the administration's requirement on religious grounds, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. The 5-4 ruling, in one of its most contentious cases of the year, recognizes for the first time the religious rights of corporations." The New York Times report, by Adam Liptak, is here.
Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "President Obama on Monday will nominate Bob McDonald, a West Point graduate who served as chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to take over as head of the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, according to White House officials." ...
... OR, as Mark Thompson of Time puts it, "Obama to Tap Soap Salesman to Clean Up VA."
James Risen of the New York Times: "Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor's operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater's top manager there issued a threat: 'that he could kill' the government's chief investigator and 'no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,' according to department reports." ...
... CW: Another chilling example of how things worked under Bush-Cheney. Even after the Nisour Square shooting, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the Blackwater guards were swell. If you connect the dots, you wonder if they threatened his life, too. The "accidental" assassination of a person supposedly under their protection would be pretty easy to accomplish. And this is rich: Crocker told reporters after the mass murder, "I certainly do wish I'd had the foresight to see that there were things out there that could be corrected." Foresight? His embassy had just aborted a State Department investigation of Blackwater, an investigation in which the preliminary findings were devastating.
Hillary Stout of the New York Times: "A $1 million starting point for each death anchors the formula to pay families of those who died in accidents caused by a defective ignition switch in General Motors cars, under a plan unveiled Monday by a compensation expert hired by the automaker. The plan, announced by the expert, Kenneth R. Feinberg, is broad and inclusive, and seems certain to account for deaths beyond the 13 that G.M. has publicly linked to the defect."
Of Pitchforks & Plutocrats. Nick Hanauer, a self-described .01 percenter, in Politico Magazine: "... I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won't last. If we don't do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us."
Neil Irwin of the New York Times: We can't predict GDP growth because ... ObamaCare! CW: Now, finally something for which we can legitimately blame the ACA.
Paul Waldman, in the Washington Post: "The idea that Obama is a tyrant wiping his muddy boots on the Constitution as he goes about his project to destroy the United States used to be the province of spittle-flecked talk radio hosts, right-wing Web sites and those chain e-mails your father-in-law reads while he watches 'Hannity.' But it has now moved to the core of the GOP's case against the president":
This is imperial power. This is George III. -- Karl Rove, on President Obama's use of executive authority, speaking on "Fox 'News' Sunday" ...
Fox 'News,' the place where irony gets no purchase. Rove meant George III of England, of course, but I wonder if FoxBots thought he was referring to Pappy Bush I, Duyba II, and Barack III. And speaking of Georges, if you read Tim Devaney's whole report (linked above), you'll see how Rove & George Will are on exactly the same page: the one about Obama's overreach coming in his adjustments to ObamaCare implementation. Hard to know who put out the memo on this one; chronology doesn't help much since Will often seems to get his "ideas" from his contacts. -- Constant Weader
David of Crooks & Liars: On ABC's "This Week," Katrina Vanden Heuvel tells Bill Kristol he should join the Iraqi army:
... Driftglass: Nonetheless, Kristol will endure. No matter who fires him, there is another major media outlet to hire him.
Rachel Bade of Politico: In back-to-back appearances on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday Darrell Issa (RTP Calif.) & William Taylor, the attorney for former IRS official Lois Lerner, accused each other of being assholes. (Paraphrase.) "Appearing just before Taylor, Issa (R-Calif.) accused Taylor of lying about Lerner not printing out official emails.... 'This is election-year politics; it's convenient to have a demon that they can create and point to,' Taylor said...."
Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic reports "Everything We Know About Facebook's Secret Mood Manipulation Experiment."
Beyond the Beltway
What's the Matter with Kansas? Paul Krugman: Gov. Sam Brownback (RTP) & his wingnut legislature still follow the long- & oft-disproved theory of supply-side economics, brought to them by ALEC & discredited economist Arthur Laffer. "... faith in tax-cut magic isn't about evidence; it's about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want." ...
... Josh Barro of the New York Times on Kansas's small-business tax exemption. Um, "If you cut taxes, you get less revenue." The exemption has not proved to be a job-creator; Barro gives one example of why not. It does, however, encourage some firms & individuals to change their filing status to make themselves tax-exempt.
New York Times Editors: "Time and again, [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie] has used dubious strategies to avoid raising taxes (sparing him from inevitable criticism by party conservatives).... Such tactics have not helped the state. New Jersey's bond rating took another hit when Mr. Christie, facing a big budget shortfall, rejected the usual remedies -- cutting costs, borrowing money or raising taxes -- and instead cut state contributions to the public employees' pension fund.
How do you say, "Sanctions, Schmanctions" in French? Reuters: "About four hundred Russian sailors arrived in western France on Monday for training on Mistral amphibious assault ships before the first of two is delivered to Moscow by the end of the year. The United States and some European partners have urged Paris to reconsider the 1.2 billion euro ($1.6 billion) sale to Moscow following Russian action in Ukraine, including its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March."
Reuters: "The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce on Monday a settlement with BNP Paribas involving a record fine of nearly $9 billion over alleged U.S. sanctions violations by France's biggest bank...."
AP: "A Marine who was declared a deserter nearly 10 years ago after disappearing in Iraq and then returning to the U.S. claiming he had been kidnapped, only to disappear again, is back in U.S. custody, officials said Sunday. Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, turned himself in and was being flown Sunday from an undisclosed location in the Middle East to Norfolk, Va. He is to be moved Monday to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to a spokesman...."