The US Supreme Court on Monday granted certiorari in eight cases, taking on such as issues as whether states can copyright their laws and whether insurers are entitled to Affordable Care Act (ACA) money for “risk corridor” payments.
In Georgia v. Public.Resource.org, the state is suing to be able to copyright annotations in its official code of laws. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the texts cannot be copyrighted: “[a]nswering this question means confronting profound and difficult issues about the nature of law in our society and the rights of citizens to have unfettered access to the legal edicts that govern their lives.” The majority in the lower court asserted that the author of the text is the people of Georgia, making it public domain and therefore not able to be copyrighted.
The Court consolidated the cases Maine Community Health Options v. US, Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. US, and Land of Lincoln Mutual Health v. US. All of these cases come from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles government contract disputes. The ACA encouraged insurers to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions by creating a system to reimburse insurers for some of the money they lose on those plans. Congress restricted the use of this money in 2015, 2016, and 2017, causing insurers to sue. Congress used a rider in fiscal appropriations bills to restrict the funds and cause this $12 billion shortfall in payments to insurers. The consolidated case has larger implications for Congress’ ability to back out of its statutory obligations through riders that impliedly repeal those obligations.
The Court also granted certiorari in Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Attorney General Barr and Ovalles v. Attorney General Barr to decide whether courts can review “equitable tolling” decisions made by agencies. The Court will also take on Dex Media Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies to resolve a question of whether a Patent Trial and Appeals Board decision that review of a patent was not blocked by a time bar is appealable. Lastly, the court granted certiorari in Banister v. Davis to determine when a Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion should be treated as a second request for habeas corpus.
The Court declined to act on three petitions seeking to overturn lower court rulings preventing the federal government from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.