Features

Firing lines

"Firing lines" Continued...

Issue: "Finding their way," Oct. 8, 2011

Miguel Estrada, a former circuit court nominee of President George W. Bush, is the chief counsel for NBC Universal, which joined Fox in the case. He described the arguments on the case before the 2nd Circuit: The circuit judges were "cursing a blue streak" in the course of debating the issue, he said. C-SPAN Radio was broadcasting the proceedings, and the counsel for Fox asked the government's counsel, "Are you going to go after C-SPAN?" to make the point that the government's decision to penalize broadcasters is subjective and context-based.

Over the next several months the court will agree to hear dozens more cases for this term. Waiting in the wings are the myriad challenges to last year's healthcare overhaul, cases the Supreme Court could decide to hear this term. But doubts are growing that the court will agree to hear any of those cases this session. "It is very clear that the strategy of the administration is to do cartwheels to keep the case out of the Supreme Court before the 2012 election," said Estrada at a Sept. 15 discussion of the next term hosted by the American Constitution Society. Estrada said the administration was filing for every possible extension to delay the case.

Seated beside Estrada was Neal Katyal, who recently served in the Obama administration as acting solicitor general. "The notion that the administration is dragging its heels-I'm hard pressed to think of any cases where the administration is moving more quickly in the circuit courts than in these healthcare cases," Katyal said.

The court is more likely to hear challenges to Arizona's immigration law this term, focusing on the issue of whether the law pre-empts federal law. Since Arizona passed its controversial law, several states have passed similar measures, so the court's decision could have broad implications. The court may also agree to hear a defense of California's Proposition 8, a voter-passed law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, which a judge struck down last year. The California Supreme Court appears ready to rule that California voters have the right to defend the law in court themselves, since the governor and attorney general had refused to defend the law.

Listen to Emily Belz discuss the upcoming Supreme Court term on The World and Everything in It.

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.

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