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On the Agenda: Week of July 2-July 6

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July 2, 2012

With Congress out this week, we’ll have a well-deserved break after a very busy June. It’ll be a slow week here in Washington, fingers crossed, with both the House and Senate out for recess.

Last week was huge for the Supreme Court, as it handed down some blockbuster rulings before ending its term on Thursday. To recap the biggest decisions:

Mixed Ruling on the Arizona Racial Profiling Law, SB 1070
Last Monday, the court upheld for the time being the most hotly disputed part of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, S.B. 1070, which requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not in the U.S. legally. Three other provisions of the law were struck down. After the decision, the ACLU announced that it had amassed an $8.7 million war chest to fight copycat laws in other states.

First Amendment Win on Stolen Valor Case
The court ruled later in the week that a law that makes it a federal crime to lie about receiving medals for military service is unconstitutional. The justices decided that the Stolen Valor Act, which makes lying about receiving medals a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison, or up to a year for lying about receiving the Medal of Honor, violated First Amendment protections against free speech.

Finally, Supreme Court Rules on the Affordable Care Act
Defying many post-argument predictions, Chief Justice John Roberts held that Congress had not exceeded its constitutional authority when it enacted the so-called individual mandate, requiring everyone either to purchase health insurance or make an additional payment on their federal taxes. However, the Court did limit the federal government’s ability to cut off funding to states that refuse to expand their Medicaid program.

According to the ACLU’s Legal Director, Steven R. Shapiro, “We welcome the Court’s decision, although we are disappointed by the Medicaid ruling,” Shapiro said. “Health care is a national problem and the national government must be empowered to address it. It would have been a major step backward for the Court to rule otherwise.”

On the Horizon – DHS Briefing:
Our Washington Legislative Office will hold a nationwide briefing for ACLU affiliates with our Immigrants’ Rights Project and Affiliate Support Department to discuss the June 15 DHS deferred action initiative for undocumented young adults.

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