Recent Supreme Court Opinions and Why They Are Important

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We're not a political website, even though occasionally we turn Lawyer X loose on the internet and let him post to various comment sections on web pages.

LessonsInLaw.com doesn't care whether you are liberal or conservative, and most lawyers will take whatever viewpoint you pay them to take in the courtroom. That's how they are trained and there is a reason for that because you don't want lawyers to only represent people with popular opinions.

Everyone deserves representation.

However, many on the right wing are almost incoherent at the recent rulings in a couple of cases, specifically those involving the ACA (aka Obamacare) and the one on gay marriage.

We're not going to give you our opinion but what we are going to do is mention a few things about those cases that are important.

In the Obergefell case (gay marriage) what is most important for people looking at representing themselves is not what the ultimate result was but, instead, that the Supreme Court recognized that the law has to change based on society and what is and is not realistic in today's world. Just as we no longer burn witches, own slaves, or are allowed to dump toxic chemicals at will, what society recognizes as acceptable may affect what the law recognizes as acceptable. This is the true beauty of the Constitution of the United States. It was enacted over 200 years ago (1789) and has survived with only 27 amendments and two of those are the 18th which made alcohol illegal and the 21st which repealed the 18th so, really, only 25 amendments of substance. 

Compare that to the Constitution of the State of Texas, which took effect in 1876, 87 years later, and has 483 amendments.

So, in short, the law changes. This applies to both the "big law" addressing constitutional issues, as well as much smaller laws any of which may be involved in your case.

In the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius case, decided yesterday, the court had to interpret a law. While some conservative "talking heads" spent a lot of time talking about how the court ignored the language of the law in reaching its decision, in reality that is not at all what happened. Anytime there is a question about what a statute/law means, or when a law contains ambiguous or conflicting language, then the court looks to "legislative intent" in determining what the law should have said. What the Supreme Court did is exactly what every law student is taught to do in the very first year of law school, read the entire law and then see in what context the "ambiguous provision" makes the most sense. That is exactly what the justices did. The dissenters on the case (those who disagreed with the decision) were intellectually dishonest with their writings and were wanting to rule a different way based upon a political philosophy rather than on what everyone agreed was the actual intent of the lawmakers.

So, other than the incredibly important implications of the actual decisions, these are the lessons In law for those of you choosing to represent yourself. 

 

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