Every so often rather than devote a column to a single subject I try to cover a variety of current legal issues. I’m going to use that format today.
To start with is a subject on the minds of millions of Americans: the Supreme Court decision in the challenge brought against the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as “Obamacare” by its critics). There is still no news from the high court. It’s difficult to know just what that means other than, perhaps, Chief Justice Roberts has an appreciation for letting suspense build. It’s possible that the court will publish its opinion this week. If it doesn’t, that means that the decision, if it is to be released at all this term — something everyone believes will happen — will come next week.
In the meantime speculation is all over the news. Most commentators and jurists think that one of three things will happen: 1) The court will strike down the mandate and very little else, leaving much of the law in place; 2) The court will strike down the whole law; 3) The court will strike down the mandate and some of the law, but leave the rest in place. Of course, a few people still believe that the court will uphold all of the act, but the betting is on at least some of the law’s demise.
Whatever the court decides to do, it seems probable that the decision will cause a flurry of political moves by both the Republican and Democratic candidates and will probably require action by Congress. Two other interesting possibilities also exist. First, this will give us all a chance to rate the hundreds of commentators as to how good their predictions were. Second, whoever is on the losing side of the decision will attack the court for its reasoning.
On a totally different subject, Roger Clemens was acquitted Monday on all counts of perjury charges. For those of you who don’t follow the legal side of sports, Clemens was accused of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. While I certainly don’t condone the use of such drugs, I have to say that I’m quite happy about the verdict.
Clemens is one of the 20th century’s greatest baseball stars and was, prior to these accusations, a true American hero. I’m afraid that I’m just a bit tired of prosecutors and Congress spending vast amounts of their time going after sports figures for drug use, let alone for allegedly lying about such use. These days we have too few heroes as it is. I hope that we can soon see an end to these investigations and prosecutions unless the evidence against the accused is really undeniable.
Finally, for those of you contemplating going to law school or who have been to law school already, there’s a new book out by a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Brian Tamanaha, that is likely to be the summer’s “must read.” In “Failing Law Schools” Tamanaha analyzes the current state of American legal education and finds it to be nothing short of scandalous. The book is a stinging indictment of current legal education, its methods, its financing and its public role. I suspect that every American law professor and many law students will be reading and talking about this book in the months to come. I’ll be discussing it in more detail in a later column.
— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas University School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.