Category Archives: Constitution

How the Senate health care bill would affect Arizona

Howard Fischer reports on an analysis by Arizona’s AHCCCS office. Analysis: Senate health-care plan could cost Arizona $2.9B or more:

The new Senate health-care plan would cost Arizona at least $2.9 billion between next year and 2026 — and perhaps as much as $7.1 billion — according to a new analysis by the Ducey administration.

Or the state could avoid most of those costs simply by cutting off health care for more than 400,000 who got coverage in 2013 when Arizona took advantage of a provision in the Affordable Care Act — the law Congress is working to repeal.

The analysis by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, shows the Senate proposal is only marginally better than the one approved by the House. That has an Arizona price tag of $3.3 billion over the same period.

The $2.9 billion is just in lost federal dollars that provide care for nearly 320,000 childless adults with income below the federal poverty level, about $11,800 a year for a single person. Plus, there are another 82,000 adults considered the “working poor,” earning up to $16,400 a year, whom the feds would no longer fund.

That’s only a piece of the picture.

If federal funding goes away, the assessment on hospitals that lawmakers approved in 2013 to pay the state’s costs for those people automatically self-destructs. That means the loss of another $2 billion over the same period, money the taxpayers would have to pick up.

Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature would pass “emergency” legislation to make sure that this does not happen.

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SCOTUS to review partisan gerrymandering in Whitford v. Gill

I gave you the background on this case earlier this year. Whitford v. Gill: Partisan gerrymandering case before SCOTUS.

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted review of this case in its next term, while also staying the lower court’s order requiring new maps be put on hold until they can resolve the state’s appeal.

This case has the potential to be a landmark opinion, for good or for bad, depending upon how the court rules.

We currently have a system in which the voters do not choose their elected representatives; elected representatives choose their voters through partisan gerrymandering, which can be done with mathematical precision to ensure “safe” districts. This destroys any notion of competitive elections in a democratic society. It is the way in which elections truly are “rigged.”

Amy Howe at SCOTUS blog explains, Today’s orders: Court to tackle partisan gerrymandering:

The Supreme Court will once again wade into the world of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. The justices announced today that they will review Wisconsin’s appeal of the decision by a three-judge district court striking down, as the product of partisan gerrymandering, the redistricting map that the Republican-controlled legislature created after the 2010 census. The lower court also ordered the state to create a new redistricting plan by the fall, but a deeply divided Supreme Court today put that order on hold. The Supreme Court’s ruling in the case, which is likely to come next year, will almost certainly be a major one that could affect redistricting efforts for decades to come.

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Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court

Back in March, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, naturally appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, who was vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the time this lawsuit was filed, should be required to recuse himself from participating in this appeal under the court’s rules of ethics.

The parties are now filing their pleadings with the Arizona Supreme Court. Ducey administration argues to keep hospital levy paying for AHCCCS care:

The Ducey administration is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to preserve the levy that pays for an expanded Medicaid program — assuming that expansion isn’t undermined by Congress killing the program.

In legal papers filed Friday, attorney Doug Northup wants the justices to reject arguments by Republican lawmakers that money being paid by hospitals to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System is a tax. Instead, he contends, it is simply an “assessment” on hospitals.

That difference is more than wordplay.

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Another GOP voter suppression plan

Why is it every time I see a piece of bad legislation in the Arizona legislature, this guy’s name appears to be attached to it? What the heck is wrong with voters living in legislative district 6 (specifically in Navajo, Gila and Yavapai Counties)? You ought to be embarrassed to send someone as backwards as this to the Arizona legislature.

The latest bad legislation is yet another GOP voter suppression plan sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe still seeking to bar student voting on campus:

The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe would put a provision that students who want to vote would be able to do so only by signing up to get an early ballot from the voting precinct where they were living before they went to college, presumably the address of their parents.

More to the point, they would not be able to use their college address. And that would apply not only to those who live in a campus dormitory but even those who have off-campus apartments or houses.

This is where Howard Fischer in his reporting should have stated up front (he puts it at the very end of his report) that the U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed (no opinion) that this was unconstitutional in SYMM v. U.S., 439 U.S. 1105 (1979), in which the Court summarily affirmed United States v. Texas, 445 F.Supp. 1245 (S.D.Tex. 1978), holding unconstitutional the denial to Prairie View students of the presumption of bona fide residency extended to other Waller County students. The three-judge District Court panel relied on a series of college student voting rights precedents under the Voting Rights Act and the 26th Amendment.

In other words, this issue has long ago been decided. Yet every election cycle some jurisdiction tries to keep college students from voting where they are attending college, and every election cycle this unconstitutional voter suppression effort is enjoined by the courts. The baffling part is the regularity with which jurisdictions keep trying to do this even when the law is clearly established.

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Donald Trump under investigation for obstruction of justice

ICYMI, Wednesday was Donald J. Trump’s birthday. Late in the day the Washington Post delivered a birthday card to the president, verifying that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating him for obstruction of justice. Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say:

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said. [The third leg of this investigation.]

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on [1] Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for [2] any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

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(Update) Draining the Trump Swamp: Democrats file Emoluments Clause lawsuit

I posted about these lawsuits the other day, Draining the Trump Swamp: Emoluments Clause lawsuits are heating up, which referenced another lawsuit yet to be filed by Democrats in Congress.

That lawsuit has now been filed. Democrats in Congress Sue Trump Over Foreign Business Dealings:

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress filed a federal lawsuit (.pdf) on Wednesday accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from business dealings with foreign governments.

The plaintiffs — believed to be the most members of Congress to ever sue a sitting president — contend that Mr. Trump has ignored a constitutional clause that prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

It is the third such lawsuit against Mr. Trump on the issue since he became president, part of a coordinated effort by the president’s critics to force him to reveal his business entanglements and either sell off his holdings or put them in a blind trust.

Like the previous two federal lawsuits, this one, filed in federal court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of illegally profiteering from his businesses in a variety of ways, including collecting payments from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels and accepting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company’s goods and services.

But it creates a new group of plaintiffs who claim the president’s actions have damaged them: Democratic members of the House and Senate who say they have been wrongly deprived of their constitutional right to rule on whether Mr. Trump can accept such economic benefits from foreign governments, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who led the effort with Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, provides: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

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