Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's deputy web editor.E-mail: email@example.com
This week marks the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Court's October term. While it's still uncertain whether the fate of the Affordable Care Act will be in the hands of the nation's top nine justices, a number of cases involving Medicaid and criminal justice could impact states. Below is a brief preview of the term's first session cases that state officials should watch closely.
Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, California Pharmacists Association, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital: These three lawsuits jammed into one will decide if Medicaid recipients and providers have standing to sue a state for dropping Medicaid reimbursement rates below federal law requirements. In the past few years, the California Legislature approved cuts to Medicaid providers by as much as ten percent. In May, the Obama administration sided with California and asserted states' protection from lawsuits enforcing federal provisions, reports California Healthline. If the court disagrees with the administration, though, states that made severe Medicaid payment cuts in recent years could see a flurry of lawsuits. A transcript of the oral arguments can be found here.
Howes v. Fields and Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, N.J.: The outcomes of these criminal justice cases could change the way law enforcement operates on a daily basis. In Howes, the court could redefine what "in custody" means and when police officers are required to inform people of their right to remain silent, otherwise known as their Miranda rights.
The Florence case questions whether law enforcement officials are allowed to strip search every person brought into jail -- no matter how minor the offense. The case comes after New Jersey resident Albert Florence was strip searched twice for outdated traffic violations, according to the Washington Post. The Obama administration also sided with the state on this, asserting that without the right to strip search everyone, law enforcement can't guarantee the safety of jails. Oral arguments here.
Martinez v. Ryan: In state court, criminal defendants are generally only allowed to argue that their state-appointed lawyers were inadequate after they've been convicted. The U.S. Constitution, though, gives no guarantee of a lawyer to criminal defendants post-conviction. In this case, if the justices side with Luis Mariano Martinez of Arizona, states may have to start providing free legal counsel to those already convicted as well.
The second and third sessions, starting October 31 and November 28 respectively, have more cases for states to watch. Stay tuned for more coverage on the first and subsequent sessions.