Michigan awaits Supreme Court rulings
Washington — As the U.S. Supreme Court nears the end of its term, its highest profile cases are among the seven yet to be decided, including three whose impact could be felt widely across Michigan.
The justices are weighing the right of same-sex couples to marry in a case that affects millions of gay couples and children in families in the 14 states, including Michigan, where same-sex nuptials are not legal. Two Metro Detroit nurses are at the heart of that case, seeking to wed and adopt each other's children.
"We're kind of anxious at this point in time," April DeBoer of Hazel Park, one of the nurses, said Monday. "We just want a definitive answer and see where exactly we stand. ... This has been a hard one to wait for."
In a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the subsidies that help an estimated 6.4 million Americans, including more than 228,000 in Michigan, afford health insurance are at stake.
And in the last of the high-profile cases, Michigan argued on behalf of 21 states siding with mining and utility industries in opposition to new federal rules regulating pollution from power plants.
The justices will meet again Thursday and Friday to hand down more opinions; they almost always finish their work by the end of June. In rare instances, the court will put off decisions and order a case to be argued again in the next term.
A look at the cases that remain:
■Gay marriage: Same-sex couples want the court to declare that gay and lesbian couples can marry anywhere in the United States. Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee are asking the court to uphold bans on same-sex marriage and allow the political process, not the courts, to handle major societal changes.
■Health care subsidies: Opponents of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul are back at the Supreme Court for another major challenge to the law. At issue is whether subsidies that people receive to help pay for their insurance are available in all 50 states, or only those that set up their own health insurance exchanges.
■Mercury emissions: Industry groups and Republican-led states assert that environmental regulators overstepped their bounds by coming up with expensive limits on the emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants without taking account of the cost of regulation at the start of the process. Michigan has rules in effect mirroring the federal regulations, and the state's rules aren't being challenged.
■Lethal injection: Death-row inmates in Oklahoma are objecting to the use of the sedative midazolam in lethal-injection executions after the drug was implicated in several botched executions. Their argument is that the drug does not reliably induce a coma-like sleep that would prevent them from experiencing the searing pain of the paralytic and heart-stopping drugs that follow sedation.
■Housing discrimination: The court is weighing the legality of a key enforcement tool used by the Obama administration and civil rights groups to fight housing bias. At issue is whether housing or lending practices that harm minorities can still be considered illegal even without proving an intent to discriminate.
■Independent redistricting commissions: Roughly a dozen states have adopted independent commissions to reduce partisan politics in drawing congressional districts. The case from Arizona involves a challenge from Republican state lawmakers who complain that they can't be completely cut out of the process without violating the Constitution.
■Repeat offenders: The court is considering whether a catchall provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which gives longer prison terms to people with at least three prior violent felony convictions, is so vague that it sweeps in relatively minor crimes.
Detroit News staff writer Mark Hicks contributed and the Associated Press contributed.