Afternoon Briefs: 4th Circuit tosses emoluments suit; health insurance mandate on shaky ground
President Donald Trump. Photo by Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock.com.
• A federal appeals court has tossed a case contending that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution’s ban on presidents accepting emoluments from foreign states. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Richmond, Virginia, unanimously ruled that the state of Maryland and Washington, D.C., had no standing to sue over money collected from foreign officials for stays at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel. A similar case filed by Democratic lawmakers is pending before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. (The New York Times, Washington Post, 4th Circuit)
• A federal appeals court appears likely to rule that a central provision of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional following Congress’ elimination of a tax penalty for failing to carry health insurance. In oral arguments Tuesday, two judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans appeared ready to strike down the individual mandate requiring people to carry insurance. It was less clear whether the panel would strike down the entire law, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions. (The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal via How Appealing)
• A federal appeals court has reinstated an involuntary manslaughter charge against a woman whose son died soon after his birth with cocaine and prescription drugs in his system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis ruled 2-1 that Samantha Flute could be charged. (Courthouse News Service via How Appealing, 8th Circuit)
• A second lawyer has been sentenced in a scheme to upload porn to file-sharing websites and file copyright suits against people who downloaded the content. John Steele was sentenced to five years in prison after cooperating with prosecutors. His former law partner and co-defendant, Paul Hansmeier, received a 14-year sentence last month. (Law360, the Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Three-quarters of the people who carried out mass attacks in public places last year had experienced at least one significant stress in their lives in the last year, according to a Secret Service report. Those stressful events included divorce or death of a loved one, a denied promotion or lost job, and personal issues such as homelessness. Nearly all the attackers had made threatening or concerning statements. The report suggests providing more assistance programs for employees that can promote mental health. (Courthouse News Service, July 2019 report by the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center)