Patterico's Pontifications


Another Day, Another Judge Strikes Down Another Gay Marriage Ban

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:17 pm

Los Angeles Times:

A federal judge in Colorado ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

However, the ruling was stayed pending an appeal.

The Wednesday ruling marks the 25th district court ruling against a gay marriage ban since last year’s Supreme Court rulings.

This has become so commonplace it barely rates a blog post.

But it does. Barely.

California: Immigration News

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:25 am

[guest post by Dana]

Because California isn’t already facing enough of a crisis with its southern border and illegal immigrants, now news about legal immigrants:

California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a new law that would reduce the number of legal immigrants eligible for deportation after being convicted of a misdemeanor, even crimes such as child molestation and identity theft.

SB 1310 will cut the maximum possible sentence for a misdemeanor by one day, a move that would halt deportation for immigrants convicted of the offense.

Federal law maintains that immigrants sentenced to 365 days in jail are eligible for deportation. The new law will set California’s maximum sentence at 364 days, making sure no immigrant is ever deported under the federal rule.

On top of this, it’s also been reported that Brown is being pushed to run for president in 2016. While Brown has not made a public statement about his plans, he has already raised millions of dollars…

In some good news regarding California and the border, the federal government canceled plans to fly illegal immigrants from Texas to California. No official reason was given, however, it would appear the protests may have had a lot to do with it.

The Customs and Border Protection agency on Monday gave no reason for the cancellation. An official with the agency’s union said the move reflected public opposition.

Gabe Pacheco, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council union, said the cancellation of the California flights was likely due to public pressure.

He said agents were worried about safety and being stretched too thin by the new arrivals, even as they collected clothes and shoes for the young people and families who make up the majority of those detained.

“It was political, plain and simple,” Pacheco said. “Public outcry after people found out that illegal immigrants from Central America were most likely going to be released here in California made them stop.”


President Obama Doesn’t Need To Bother With News Because He Already Knows What They’re Going To Report…Except When He Doesn’t

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:22 am

[guest post by Dana]

Last night in Seattle, President Obama spoke at two fundraisers. Donors paid between $500 and $20,000 for one of the fundraisers, and $25,000 per person for the other one (dinner to support the super-PAC that works to keep Democrats in power in the U.S. Senate).

The president has received criticism for jetting off on a three-day West Coast fundraising trip in light of the many crises currently taking place both here and abroad.

At one of the fundraisers, the president made an eye-popping comment:

“Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world, the old order isn’t holding and we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people,” Obama said Tuesday, speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at an Italianate mansion across Lake Washington from the downtown skyline.

As he often does, Obama said he’s spending his time out on the road trying to fight that kind of cynicism from seeping in.

Some of that cynicism, Obama joked, was because of the news, which he said he doesn’t tend to watch himself.

To the crowd in Seattle, though, he said about the news, “Whatever they’re reporting about, usually I know.”

Which is funny because clearly he does not know what they are going to report about UNTIL HE READS THE NEWS REPORTS:

From the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, to the IRS targeting conservative nonprofit groups, to the revelations about veterans dying while waiting for care because of falsified lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the president and his top aides have admitted that they found out about them in the media.


Halbig: Exemption of Territories from Coverage Requirements Now Understandable As a Litigation Strategy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

Remember this odd story from the other day?

Looking for a place where Obamacare doesn’t exist? Try moving to the U.S. Territories, where the Obama administration just provided a pretty big waiver from the law’s major coverage provisions.

The Affordable Care Act’s design dealt a pretty big problem to the territories. It required insurers there to comply with the law’s major market reforms — guaranteed coverage, mandated benefits, limits on profits, etc. — without requiring residents to get coverage or providing subsidies to help them afford coverage. The territories — Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — have been warning for years that would destroy their insurance markets. The individual mandate and the subsidies are the major ways the ACA tries to bring healthy people into the individual insurance market to balance out sick patients who can no longer be denied coverage.

That was until Wednesday, when the Obama administration told the territories that the coverage requirements actually don’t apply to them. The exemption was posted on a Health and Human Services Web site on Thursday.

This seemed a little puzzling . . . until you read the Halbig decision. Then everything comes into focus: they were sacrificing coverage in the territories to establish a litigation position ahead of the decision.

Here it is in a nutshell. The government argued that the law provided a “three-legged stool” — and the three legs were: (1) “guaranteed issue” (where insurance companies must issue coverage to those with pre-existing conditions); (2) the mandate; and (3) subsidies. The government said that you can’t remove any of these legs without the stool collapsing; therefore the intent to have broad-based subsidies is clear. So, for example, you can’t possibly have a situation where you have “guaranteed issue” unless you have an individual mandate, which establishes a broad base of customers, which makes the economics work for the insurance companies.

The Halbig court replies: sure you can, apparently — because that’s what you do in the territories:

Yet the supposedly unthinkable scenario the government and dissent describe—one in which insurers in states with federal Exchanges remain subject to the community rating and guaranteed issue requirements but lack a broad base of healthy customers to stabilize prices and avoid adverse selection—is exactly what the ACA enacts in such federal territories as the Northern Mariana Islands, where the Act imposes guaranteed issue and community rating requirements without an individual mandate. . . . This combination, predictably, has thrown individual insurance markets in the territories into turmoil. . . . But HHS has nevertheless refused to exempt the territories from the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements, recognizing that, “[h]owever meritorious” the reasons for doing so might be, “HHS is not authorized to choose which provisions of the [ACA] might apply to the territories.”

My guess is that the Government knew that the court was going to be making this argument, somehow — and the Government wanted to be able to tell the Supreme Court (or en banc D.C. Circuit) that it had, in fact, exempted the territories. They wanted not to seem reactive to the Halbig decision — so they made sure to make the announcement before the decision came out.

My favorite part is the quote from HHS: “HHS is not authorized to choose which provisions of the [ACA] might apply to the territories.” Right before they did exactly that.

When the Government trumpets that exemption before future courts, the lawyer for Halbig et al. had better be ready with that quote.

Is HHS allowed to exempt the territories? Apparently, the Obama administration answers as a character from a Monty Python sketch: No! No! No! . . . Yes. A bit.

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