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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/1/12

October 1, 2012 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment


It’s the first Monday in October, which means the United States Supreme Court is back in session. No, those aren’t our justices dressed up as Santa Claus. That’s actually a photo of the Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. I found it much more eye-catching than the photo of our Court, where poor Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks like she’s off in the time-out chair.

Just when the Court thought it was done dealing with healthcare and the right to refuse government intervention, it agreed to hear three cases this session that deal with those issues at least on some level:

  • Delia v. E.M.A. handles the concept of whether states can recover money spent to deliver care for poor or disabled Medicaid beneficiaries when it is found that they have received funds from another source.
  • Levin v. United States addresses whether military medical personnel can be immune from alleged “battery” while providing medical care to a civilian.
  • Missouri v. McNeely will look at whether law enforcement officers have the right to obtain blood samples from allegedly drunk drivers regardless of consent.

Except for the Medicaid issue, these cases don’t seem terribly earthshaking for the masses. There’s an underlying concern in some camps, however, that the Court is somewhat fractured after the Affordable Care Act drama of the last term. The Atlantic reports that Chief Justice John Roberts alienated his conservative colleagues when he saved the Act.

I trust that the Justices are adults and would be above any middle school-style backstabbing to make up for perceived (or real) slights in the previous term. They’re human, however, so there’s still the potential for some drama. I’m personally looking forward to some entertaining transcripts. Last year provided some rare treats, and I don’t think broccoli has received that much national press since George H.W. Bush refused to eat it.

Although the court has only accepted a few cases so far, more will be reviewed for inclusion this term. We could potentially be looking at decisions on same-sex marriage, the Voting Rights act, or election law. With a Presidential election looming, let’s hope we don’t have to hear any cases about hanging chads or other election day fallout.

Another major case on the docket, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, looks at affirmative action in university admissions. Depending on which way that one goes, it could lead to shakeups in medical school admissions that could have a profound impact on the diversity of the future health care delivery workforce.

Regardless of your political orientation, the Court always seems to bring something to the table for everyone to be happy about. We don’t get that very much from our other branches of government, so here’s to another term.

Have a favorite Justice? Want to suggest some kickier shoes for those that sit in the front row for the official portrait? E-mail me.


E-mail Dr. Jayne.

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