New York may get sports betting pending Supreme Court decision

ALBANY — Legal sports betting in New York? Yes, there could soon be an app for that. Legislation now before state lawmakers would allow New York’s four non-tribal casinos to significantly expand how they take bets on pro and college sports — even permitting online wagers. The bill is contingent on the outcome of a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to overturn the federal ban on state-authorized sports betting outside of Las Vegas. A decision is expected within the next few weeks. The legislation, introduced Thursday by State Sen. John Bonacic (R-Orange County), would also allow the casinos to enter partnerships with racetracks, OTBs and video lottery parlors in New York to register gamblers for their online platforms and also operate sports gambling kiosks. New bill seeks to legalize sports betting in New York “I think there is a strong demand to be allowed to bet on sports legally,” Bonacic, head of the Senate’s racing, wagering and gaming committee told The Daily News. Some New York sports fans said they would be all in. “Why not make it legal? Everyone is doing it with their friends and co-workers already,” said Laurie Steele, 58, of upstate Mohawk. “I think it’s great,” added Steele who was heading into the Barclays Center for a college hoops game Saturday night. Chris Christie slams NFL for fighting sports betting in Jersey “The amount of revenue that can possibly generate from this can be a good thing for the economy.” New York’s existing gambling laws would allow the four commercial casinos licensed by the state in 2014 to offer on-site sports betting — if the Supreme Court allows it — as soon as the state’s Gaming Commission published regulations to govern it. Bonacic and other supporters argued that allowing the casinos Continue Reading

Gay marriage: Which case will the Supreme Court choose?

WASHINGTON — It's getting so you can't tell the potential Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage without a scorecard.When the justices sit down for their first fall conference Sept. 29, they will consider the initial requests from states to review decisions striking down gay-marriage bans. Unless they quickly agree to hear one or more cases, those petitions won't be the last.Lawyers on both sides predict the justices will act soon to decide the issue by next June. That makes it likely they will choose from among the three cases pending. Some of the nation's premier Supreme Court advocates, sensing history in the making, have signed on to represent gay couples or state officials."The issue is moving so fast," says John Bursch, a former Michigan solicitor general defending Utah's gay-marriage ban. "People want an answer soon, and I think the court is going to want to give it to them."Here's the betting line:UTAH: As the first case decided by a federal district judge and an appeals court panel after the Supreme Court's rulings in June 2013 in favor of gay marriage, Herbert v. Kitchen is the front-runner.Arguments for: State officials back the ban, guaranteeing a vigorous defense. Former acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal, who has argued 21 cases before the court, has joined the gay couples' legal team, along with Mary Bonauto, who won the nation's first same-sex marriage lawsuit in Massachusetts in 2003.More than 1,000 couples got married before the district court decision was stayed by the Supreme Court in January, leaving them in a marital limbo that the justices might feel compelled to resolve, having created it themselves.Among the plaintiffs are couples who want to marry; who were married before the district court ruling was blocked; and who want their Iowa marriage recognized in Utah. That covers all the bases. "This court's resolution of the question presented can mark the end of marriage litigation in all respects," the state's brief Continue Reading

Political maps under fire as Supreme Court case on tailor-made districts looms

CHESTER, Pa. — Beth Lawn's neighborhood of modest duplexes has more in common with the rest of this struggling, crime-ridden city on the Delaware River next to Philadelphia than it does with the Amish farms of Lancaster County 50 miles away.But the 71-year-old grandmother awoke one morning to find she had been moved from Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district to the 7th, a labyrinthine monstrosity that winds its way through five counties and has been likened to a caricature of Goofy kicking Donald Duck."I'm pretty sure I'm in Goofy's thumb," Lawn says. "I have a vote, but it really doesn't count for anything."Jerry DeWolf had a similar experience across the border in Maryland when his largely rural 6th congressional district, home to 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail, was stretched to include wealthy suburbs of Washington. He wasn't moved out, but a new congressman was moved in.Both Lawn and DeWolf were victims of partisan gerrymandering — purposeful line-drawing by state lawmakers to maximize their political party's strength in Congress and state legislatures and weaken their opponents. In Lawn's case, Pennsylvania Republicans drew the maps. In DeWolf's, it was Maryland Democrats.But they didn't take the creative penmanship sitting down. Both are now plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging the lines, which gave Republicans 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 congressional districts and Democrats seven out of eight in Maryland. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a landmark challenge to Wisconsin's partisan gerrymandering in October, opponents of the process in other states aren't just waiting for the justices' verdict. They're waging legal and constitutional battles of their own that also could reach the nation's highest court."We've been subjugated into irrelevancy," DeWolf says of the conservative residents of western Maryland, who elected an even more conservative member of Congress for 20 years until Continue Reading

Supreme Court upholds use of lethal injection drug implicated in botched executions

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling Monday rejecting a claim by Oklahoma death-row prisoners that a drug used in executions amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.The high court's denial of a preliminary injunction effectively approved the use of a Valium-like drug called midazolam for executions by lethal injection despite dramatically flawed executions in Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio.But the battle is not over: A pending case in federal court in Arizona over the same drug may well bring new hearings on the drug's effectiveness in carrying out death sentences.Monday's ruling came in the wake of an April 2014 execution in Oklahoma in which the condemned man writhed in apparent pain for about 45 minutes because the catheter needle delivering the midazolam and two other death drugs into his body had slipped out of a vein. He died of a heart attack.The Supreme Court case, called Glossip vs. Gross, takes its name from another Oklahoma prisoner facing imminent execution.RELATED: Read the high court's ruling on the case RELATED: Supreme Court won't rule on proof of citizenship MONTINI: Is it time to abolish the death penalty? The decision broke on the usual liberal-conservative lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote in favor of denying a preliminary injunction against midazolam use in executions. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito also voted against the injunction. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted for.The Arizona case, which has been on hold since November and is not affected by Monday's decision, arises out of a July 2014 execution in which Joseph Wood, a double murderer, gasped and snorted for nearly two hours even though executioners pumped 15 supposedly lethal doses of midazolam and a narcotic into him.According to a November 2014 court order, the state of Arizona cannot schedule any more executions until the case, which bears Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court to weigh fate of death row inmates

Even though Delaware Supreme Court found the state's death penalty law unconstitutional in August, the debate over whether 12 men on death row should still be executed will heat up next week when arguments make it to a courtroom.The court will have to decide whether its landmark ruling, which barred death sentences unless Delaware law is rewritten to comply with the U.S. Constitution, should be applied retroactively to those already on death row.The top court is poised to hear arguments Dec. 7 in Dover from state prosecutors and attorneys representing Derrick Powell, a 29-year-old sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer."The issue becomes, will the court apply the Constitution to everybody or invoke a procedural technicality to arbitrarily apply the decision to some but not others?" said Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.Prosecutors will urge the five justices to not apply the court decision to the men on death row because of a long-standing rule against doing so after a criminal case is completed. Powell's attorneys will argue it would be draconian to execute him after the court already deemed the sentencing scheme unconstitutional.The issue first arose when the U.S. Supreme Court in January struck down Florida's death penalty law saying it violated the U.S. Constitution by giving judges, and not juries, the final say to impose a death sentence.Alabama and Delaware were the only other states that, like Florida, allowed judges to override a jury's recommendation of life.In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the state Supreme Court found that Delaware's capital punishment law was also unconstitutional.The court, however, did not say in August whether its decision would apply to those on death row, leaving open the possibility of further litigation. Powell's case will be the test.Powell is Delaware's youngest inmate on death row.In Continue Reading

Focus shifts to states ahead of Supreme Court ACA ruling

With oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court case that contests the use of tax credits on federally-run health insurance exchanges, the focus shifts to if Tennessee will be able to set up a state-run exchange.The King vs. Burwell case looks at whether language in the Affordable Care Act is crafted so as to make credits available at only the state level and by extension whether states would be compelled to establish an exchange now that people have been able to buy insurance for two years.A ruling in favor of the plaintiff threatens the affordability of insurance to thousands of Tennesseans and millions of Americans as well as the economics of the health care industry. The Supreme Court heard from lawyers representing the plaintiffs and government on March 4; a ruling is expected in June."Now the question is at the state level what do you do over the next few months? I suspect that has already started in many states," said Dr. Melinda Buntin, chair of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine department of health policy.There had been chatter about whether Tennessee would set up an exchange, but current discussion is dominated by whether a bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, will be successful in prohibiting the state from setting up an exchange — even before there is a Supreme Court ruling.Tennessee is one of 11 states with bills proposed in 2015 to prohibit state-run exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Six of the states are in the southeast.Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, has proposed a bill along with Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, advocating for the state to set up an exchange. The bill, SP1124, would take effect only if the Supreme Court rules that tax credits are available only on state-run exchanges.Even if Kelsey's bill is unsuccessful, the state legislature has to approve funding for the state to develop and operate a state-based exchange in any situation, which Continue Reading

How Neil Gorsuch could impact current and future Supreme Court cases

WASHINGTON — President Trump's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court could have an immediate impact in areas ranging from labor rights and environmental protection to the overall power of executive agencies.As federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, began making the rounds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, just hours after Trump announced his nomination, groups on the left and right were trying to determine what impact he would have if he's confirmed.By restoring the 5-4 conservative balance lost when Scalia died nearly a year ago, Gorsuch likely would give labor union opponents the fifth vote they were counting on in a California case last year that threatens the ability of public employee unions to collect dues from non-members. It won't be long before a similar case is back before the court.And just before his death, Scalia provided the fifth vote to block the Obama administration's "Clean Power Plan" from being implemented while states and industries challenged it in court. Gorsuch would restore that fifth vote — though it may not be needed if the Trump administration backs away from the regulations on coal-fired power plants pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.Those are but two legal battles that Gorsuch could influence if he gets on the court in time for its 2017 term, which begins in October. That appears likely under one of two scenarios: If at least eight of the Senate's 48 Democrats and independents vote for him, or if Republicans change the rules to require only a simple 51-vote majority. Read more:But the Coloradoan, who has served a decade on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, could have a more sweeping impact even though he would replace the like-minded Scalia. Unlike the late justice, he has argued that judges should take back at least some of the authority they have ceded to federal agencies that enforce labor, environmental and Continue Reading

Health-law subsidies at risk in Supreme Court case

More than 126,500 Arizona residents could lose health-insurance coverage if the U.S. Supreme Court this month rejects the federal government's method of helping people pay for health insurance.The case, King v. Burwell, examines whether Affordable Care Act subsidies that help offset monthly health insurance premiums are allowed only in marketplaces that are "established by the state."The challengers contend that the phrase, written into President Barack Obama's signature health-care overhaul, forbids subsidies in at least 34 states that use the health-care law's federal marketplace, monthly subsidies are at the heart of the health law's attempt to make insurance affordable for moderate– to middle–income families who purchase health coverage. If those subsidies go away, that would trigger a 132 percent average increase in the monthly health-insurance tab for Arizona residents enrolled in subsidized marketplace plans, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit health foundation.Many would find no-subsidy plans too expensive and drop their coverage, experts say."Even with the subsidies, it's a stretch for some people," said Tom Zumtobel, CEO of Meritus, a non-profit health insurance cooperative. "We are talking about people for whom $10 to $20 a month matters. They just don't have the money for that."But the impact would be more dramatic than higher health-insurance bills for working-class Arizonans. Without subsidies, experts predict it would ripple through the individual health-insurance market as healthy people drop coverage rather than pay more costly insurance bills. That could send monthly premiums soaring in 2016 as the insurance pools become dominated by sicker people who use more prescription drugs and visit doctors more frequently — a phenomenon called the death spiral.The Urban Institute estimated that 8.2 million people nationwide would lose their health insurance as non-subsidized enrollees drop coverage, Continue Reading

Neil Gorsuch sails through Supreme Court confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON — Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch appeared headed for eventual confirmation to the Supreme Court Wednesday as Democratic senators sought to influence him on issues ranging from arbitration to women's rights that may come before the justices in the future.What had been a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing a day earlier morphed into a sort of civics lesson on legal and legislative problems in which the senators and the nominee chatted about potential solutions.Thus it was that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., implored the 49-year-old Gorsuch not to stick rigidly to the words of a Constitution written more than two centuries ago. “For the life of me, I really don’t know -- when you’re there -- what you’re going to do with it," she said, already imagining Gorsuch on the high court.Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked whether Gorsuch would recuse himself as often on the Supreme Court as he has on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, rather than rule on cases in which he may have a conflict. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., urged Gorsuch to consider overruling the high court's 2010 Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending on elections.“Judge Gorsuch, this is probably the last time you’ll pay attention to me,” Whitehouse said -- because he no longer argues cases before the Supreme Court.Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., engaged the judge in a lengthy debate about the Supreme Court's rulings on forced arbitration. At one point, he jovially apologized to Gorsuch for saying the Federal Arbitration Act was enacted in 1924, rather than 1925. But he also explained why Democrats were so concerned with Gorsuch's pending confirmation.“This is a job interview. You are applying for lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land," Franken said.“There’s so much at stake here," he said. "What we’re Continue Reading

Supreme Court removes travel ban case from calendar pending new review

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday removed President Trump's travel ban from its October calendar, an indication that it may have just gotten harder to challenge. But that won't stop opponents from trying.By adding and subtracting affected countries after a 90-day review, the ban against certain travelers from eight countries in three continents could strike federal judges as less discriminatory than Trump's first two versions, legal experts said.But by making the prohibitions indefinite rather than temporary and continuing to target mostly Muslim nations, the ban still provides plenty of fodder for the states, led by Hawaii, and immigration rights groups challenging it in court.What seems clear to both sides in the wake of Trump's unveiling of Travel Ban 3.0 Sunday is that the current Supreme Court case has been altered, perhaps fatally. What's left is for the justices to get new briefs from both sides by Oct. 5 before deciding its ultimate fate."The parties are directed to file letter briefs addressing whether, or to what extent, the proclamation issued on September 24, 2017, may render cases No. 16-1436 and 16-1540 moot," the court said in its order."I think the court should and will dismiss the case as moot." said Stephen Legomsky, professor emeritus at Washington University School of Law and a former top immigration lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security. "The new proclamation changes both the factual and the legal issues."Trump's first travel ban, issued in January, targeted seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. His second, issued in March, eliminated Iraq and allowed exceptions for legal permanent residents and those who already had visas. That didn't impress two federal appeals courts, but the Supreme Court in June allowed much of the ban to go into effect.The new version subtracts Sudan and adds Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. Chad is 53% Continue Reading