Tag Archives: federal courts

Federal court upholds ban on sales of puppy mill dogs

A federal court has upheld a measure banning pet stores in Phoenix from selling puppies produced in inhumane, commercial, dog breeding facilities known as puppy mills.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona rejected a pet store’s federal constitutional challenge to the local ordinance.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States, responded, “Not only does this type of regulation crack down on the puppy mill industry, but it also reduces local pet overpopulation and euthanasia rates in shelters by driving the market toward the adoption of homeless animals and purchases from only responsible breeders.”

According to the organization, more than 70 localities across the country have enacted similar ordinances.

Four federal courts have determined that the laws are constitutional. Those courts are in Florida, Illinois and Rhode Island.

A state by state look at gay marriage bans

State bans on same-sex marriages have been falling around the country since summer 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned gay marriages. The high court on Oct. 6 cleared the way for more expansion by turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit it.

The court’s decision effectively made gay marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin in a ruling also affecting six states where same-sex marriages had been put on hold pending high-court review: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The remaining state bans are all under legal challenges.

A look at where the issue stands across the country:

• ARIZONA: In a ruling that called into question Arizona’s gay marriage ban, a U.S. District Court judge handed a victory Sept. 12 to a gay man denied death benefits after losing his spouse to cancer.

• ARKANSAS: A state judge in May struck down the state’s ban. The state Supreme Court brought marriages to a halt and is weighing state officials’ appeal. Same-sex couples are also suing the state in federal court. The attorney general’s office hadasked that proceedings in both cases be put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether to take up a case from Utah.

• FLORIDA: A federal judge declared the state’s ban unconstitutional in mid-August, joining state judges in four counties. He issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses would be issued immediately issued for gay couples.

• HAWAII: Same-sex couples sued in 2011 to overturn the state’s ban. A federal court later upheld the ban, but then the Legislature last year legalized gay marriage. A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel heard arguments on the Hawaii case in San Francisco on Sept. 8, along with cases from Idaho and Nevada.

• IDAHO: State officials are appealing a federal judge’s decision to overturn the state’s ban. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in San Francisco heard arguments Sept. 8 along with appeals from Hawaii and Nevada.

• KENTUCKY: Two Kentucky cases were among six from four states heard in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Aug. 6. Rulings are pending on recognition of out-of-state marriages, as well as the ban on marriages within the state.

• LOUISIANA: A parish judge ruled Sept. 22 that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional; the attorney general has appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.

• MICHIGAN: The state’s ban was overturned by a federal judge in March following a rare trial that mostly focused on the impact on children. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard arguments Aug. 6, and a ruling is pending.

• MISSOURI: The state’s attorney general, Chris Koster, announced on Oct. 6 that he wouldn’t appeal a circuit court order that Missouri recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Two other same-sex marriage cases are pending. One is a federal challenge in Kansas City, and the other is a St. Louis case that focuses on city officials who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples to trigger a legal test of the ban.

• NEVADA: Eight couples are challenging Nevada’s voter-approved 2002 ban, which a federal judge upheld a decade later. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel heard arguments Sept. 8, along with appeals from Hawaii and Idaho.

• OHIO: Two Ohio cases were argued Aug. 6 in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and a ruling is pending. In one, two gay men whose spouses were dying sued to have their out-of-state marriages recognized on their spouses’ death certificates. In the other, four couples sued to have both spouses listed on their children’s birth certificates.

• TENNESSEE: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Aug. 6 on an appeal of a federal judge’s order to recognize three same-sex couples’ marriages while their lawsuit against the state works through the courts. A ruling is pending.

• TEXAS: A federal judge declared the state’s ban unconstitutional, issuing a preliminary injunction. The state is appealing to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which is soon expected to set a date for arguments.

• ELSEWHERE: Other states with court cases demanding recognition of gay marriage are: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Most lawsuits challenge same-sex marriage bans or ask states to recognize gay marriages done in other states.

Report: 10.3 million gain health coverage on marketplace during 1st enrollment

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 10.3 million uninsured adults gained health care coverage following the first open enrollment period in the federal government’s health insurance marketplace.

The study, dealing with trends in insurance before and after the open enrollment period, finds greater gains in the states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin is not one of those states.

In a news release responding to the report, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “This study also reaffirms that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is important for coverage, as well as a good deal for states.”

“To date, 26 states plus D.C. have moved forward with Medicaid expansion. We’re hopeful remaining states will come on board and we look forward to working closely with them.”

The findings show that the uninsured rate for adults ages 18-64 declined from 21 percent in September 2013 to 16.3 percent in April 2014.

Factoring in economic factors and pre-existing trends, the researchers say this represents a 5.2 percentage-point change, or 10.3 million adults gaining coverage.

The research finds that the decline in the uninsured was significant for all age, race/ethnicity, and gender groups, with the largest changes occurring among Latinos, blacks, and adults ages 18-34.

Coverage gains were concentrated among low-income adults in states expanding Medicaid and among individuals in the income range eligible for Marketplace subsidies.

The study finds a 5.1 percentage point reduction in the uninsured rate associated with Medicaid expansion, while in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs, the change in the uninsured rate among low-income adult populations was not statistically significant.

The study also shows that within the first six months of gaining coverage, more adults — about 4.4 million — reported having a personal doctor and fewer adults — about 5.3 million — experienced difficulties paying for medical care.

The study does not include data from before 2012, which means it does not include the estimated 3 million young adults who gained health insurance coverage through their parents’ plans following passage of the Affordable Care Act.


To read the story, go to http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1406753.

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Kentucky governor to hire attorneys to appeal marriage equality order

UPDATE: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal the decision.

Kentucky’s attorney general will not appeal a federal ruling that the state must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

However, Gov. Steve Beshear said he will hire outside lawyers to handle the case.

A federal judge had ordered the ruling to take effect on March 20.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, said he would not appeal. Conway said if he did stand in the way of the order, he “would be defending discrimination. That I will not do.”

But later Beshear, also a Democrat, said he would hire someone to handle the appeal.

Another lawsuit in Kentucky demands full marriage equality for same-sex couples in the state. A ruling in that case is expected this summer, unless the state withdraws its defense in that case as well.

Kentucky’s constitutional ban against same-sex was approved by voters in 2004.

In recent months, federal judges have ruled for same-sex couples in multiple cases, including Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Kentucky.

Meanwhile, attorneys general in several states have said they cannot defend anti-gay laws.

A hearing regarding the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin case seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s anti-gay marriage laws will take place on March 27.