By Jon Kuhl
The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing three major cases that deal with federalism this term, cases that are expected to draw bright lines on where state and federal powers begin and end. Below are brief descriptions of the three cases and an interview with NCSL’s Senior Federal Affairs Counsel Susan Frederick, who explains what the court will be deciding.
Affordable Care Act
Of particular interest for states is whether the federal government can force states to expand their share of Medicaid costs and administration with the risk of losing that money if they refuse. Twenty-six states, led by Florida, brought the case. Oral arguments are expected in late February or early March, with a ruling sometime in June.
Immigration: Arizona’s S.B. 1070 Law
With partisan gridlock in Washington, Arizona, like many states, dealt with the issue of immigration on its own. In petitioning the court to hear the case, Arizona asserts, “It is the gateway for nearly half of the nation’s illegal border crossings. … Arizona has repeatedly asked the federal government for more vigorous enforcement of the federal immigration laws, but to no avail.” The federal government, on the other hand, asserts Arizona’s law is taking on authority it does not have, authority that rests instead with the federal government. A ruling on this case is expected in June.
An expedited hearing will take place to decide the fate of Texas’ redistricting map, which had been called into question by a lower federal court for undermining the voting rights of Latinos and African Americans. At issue for the court is whether to defer to the state legislature in drawing congressional districts. Oral arguments will begin on Jan. 9, and an opinion is expected early this spring.
Susan Frederick has worked in NCSL’s Washington, DC State-Federal Relations office for the past 11 years and holds a J.D. from American University.