The US Supreme Court on Wednesday released its opinions in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania.
The Little Sisters case reversed the opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. It centered on the requirement under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 for employers to provide women with “preventive care and screenings.” The Health Resources and Services Administration provided a discretionary exemption for religious organizations allowing them to opt-out of providing coverage for contraceptives. A newer rule allowing religious organizations to opt-out of coverage “by self-certifying that they met certain criteria” to exclude contraceptive coverage. In this situation, the plan would include separate payments for contraceptive services without cost-sharing requirements.
Organizations were also permitted to be exempt if they had moral objections to providing contraceptive coverage or religious reasons for objecting to it. Pennsylvania sued in response, alleging that the Departments promulgating the rules did not abide by notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act.
The Third Circuit allowed a preliminary nationwide injunction against these rules, but the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Thomas, held that the rules were not issued with procedural defects, and the Departments were allowed to permit these exemptions. They thus reversed the Third Circuit ruling and remanded the case. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented.
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The US Supreme Court stayed the Montana District Court’s vacatur and injunction of pipeline permits on Monday, except as applied to the Keystone XL pipeline. The Supreme Court did not issue a full explanation of its decision.
Previously, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump Administration’s request to stay the Montana District Court’s decision. The Montana District Court revoked the use of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for pipeline projects pending a completed environmental impact assessment on endangered species. The US Supreme Court’s stay now allows NWP 12 to go back into effect for most pipelines, except for the Keystone XL pipeline project.
Overall, the Keystone XL pipeline is delayed. TC Energy must obtain NWP 12 to build the pipeline across US rivers and streams and to discharge into waters of the US.
The Ninth Circuit must now make a final decision on the appeal.
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A Kentucky Circuit Judge granted a temporary restraining order on Thursday against Governor Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 executive orders.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evan Orchard and Cider Mill, LLC, filed a complaint against the Governor alleging numerous unconstitutional orders issued by the executive. The complaint argues that Beshear’s orders bypass the administrative process and infringe on rights guaranteed by law.
Some of the orders cited in the complaint pertain to limiting large gatherings and requiring health guidelines for businesses.
In the restraining order, the court noted that “prior to issuing or enforcing any Executive Order… the Governor shall specifically state the emergency that requires the order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities.”
The Kentucky Attorney General, Senate President, and House Speaker provided input in an open letter to Beshear. They assert Beshear issued “arbitrary and overbroad” orders and urged his administration to trust Kentuckians to “make responsible decisions to protect themselves and their neighbors.”
It’s not clear what the restraining order will mean for Beshear’s executive order issued this week requiring masks to be worn in public. Kentucky has recently seen a rise in coronavirus with 372 new cases the day the restraining order was issued.
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The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that refugees do not have to apply for and be denied asylum in Mexico before they can apply for asylum in the US. This decision struck down a rule by the Trump administration that requires refugees to apply for asylum in countries they travel through on their way to the US.
In 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a joint interim final rule, entitled “Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications,” which generally required refugees to apply for and be denied asylum in countries through which they travel on their way to the US.
The lower court initially granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the rule in the four states along the United States-Mexico Border. This preliminary injunction was stayed by the Supreme Court, pending the disposition of the appeals court.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs, who were nonprofit organizations representing asylum seekers, had standing because the rule diverted the plaintiffs’ resources from other sources and the plaintiffs would lose significant funding because of the rule.
The court held that the rule was unlawful under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) because the rule was inconsistent with 8 U.S.C. § 1158, which allows a refugee who is physically present in the US to apply for asylum.
The court also concluded that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because evidence indicated that refugees may not have safe options in Mexico, and the agencies did almost nothing to ensure that these other countries would be a safe option for refugees. The agencies also did not justify their assumption that an alien who did not apply for and receive asylum in another country was not likely to have a “meritorious asylum claim.” The rule would also adversely impact any unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
Because of this, the court affirmed the preliminary injunction. The US District Court for the District of Columbia also struck down this rule on June 30.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that the state of California is filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rule that international students must leave the US if all of their classes are online.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) announced Monday that international students would not be allowed to remain in the US if they took only online classes in the fall.
In a press release, Becerra stated that the new rule “threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students” who are currently studying in the US under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). International students would be required to attend in-person classes or face deportation. Becerra also said that the rule would further burden the educational system, which is already “struggling” to withstand the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
Becerra alleged that the new rule is arbitrary and capricious and that it violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The complaint also requests that international students not be required to attend in-person classes during COVID-19 or face penalties for completing the fall semester online.
In the statement California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley also said:
With this lawsuit, California is standing up for the 21,000 international students who attend our community colleges and standing up for our right to continue teaching and learning in a safe and responsible way during the pandemic. We will not sacrifice the benefit of the diversity of experiences and perspectives that international students bring to our colleges, nor will we sacrifice the safety of any student, faculty, or staff member at our 115 colleges.