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Supreme Court opens 2011 term

The US Supreme Court [official website] opened its 2011 term Monday with oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases. In Reynolds v. United States [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on the retroactive application of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) [final guidelines, PDF], which requires convicted sex offenders to register. The attorney general determined in 2007 that all states would have to follow the federal rule to keep registration current. Billy Joe Reynolds pleaded guilty for failure to register his new address but attempted to challenge the application of SORNA against him because his sex offender conviction in 2001 predated the attorney general's rule change. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that this did not give him standing to challenge the rule's application. Reynolds' attorney argued, "[o]ur reading better accords with the text of SORNA and congressional intent, but the government reading is simply not reasonable." Counsel for the federal government argued that the attorney general was acting within the scope of Congress' intent.

In Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on whether the Supremacy Clause preempts Medicaid recipients and providers from bringing a suit challenging a California state law that reduces reimbursement rates. Medicaid providers—doctors, hospitals and pharmacies—are angry over a series of cutbacks by the California legislature reducing reimbursement payments in an attempt to handle the state's financial crisis. Lawyers for the state argued that the providers have no right to challenge the reimbursement rates and that they do not have any right to a particular rate of reimbursement. The case is consolidated with Douglas v. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Douglas v. California Pharmacists Association.

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