The Brief: Top Texas News for June 28, 2012

The Big Conversation:

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning will issue one of its most significant and highly anticipated decisions in decades — and the implications for Texas, as you might expect, are big.

The court's long-awaited decision on President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul is expected to come around 9:15 a.m. Central. Likely to shape the future of the American health care system, as well as the 2012 presidential election, the ruling may also mark the first time the court has invalidated a major piece of federal legislation in 80 years.

(Looking for where to find the news first? Head over to SCOTUSblog, the influential Supreme Court site that even the White House is said to be following closely today.)

To recap: Though the constitutionality of the law's so-called individual mandate has drawn most of the public's attention, the court will also respond to three other matters: whether the rest of the law must be tossed if the mandate is struck down, whether the expansion of Medicaid set forth in the bill violates the Constitution and whether the court should even hear the case before the law goes completely into effect.

 

Most court watchers expect the justices take one of three actions: uphold the law entirely, strike down the individual mandate but uphold the rest of the law, or strike down the law completely.

As for Texas, whose Republican leadership has lined up against the bill since its passage in 2010, state officials have appeared reluctant to implement some of the law's provisions, like a state health care exchange. But the Texas Health and Human Services Commission says it has implemented other parts of the law and that it still needs more direction before proceeding.

“Whether [the law] is upheld or struck down or something in between, we’re going to need more guidance from the federal government on how to implement some of these really complex changes the law makes,” commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told The Associated Press.

Culled:

  • In response to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's new ad slamming the Obama administration over immigration, the Ted Cruz campaign on Wednesday called attention to a 2007 Dewhurst speech in which he expressed support for a guest-worker program, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Cruz campaign manager John Drogin said in a statement: "So David Dewhurst just released a new TV ad saying Obama's new amnesty policy 'burns me up.' Well, what burns up Texas voters more than a 105-degree summer day is a politician who will look the camera in the eye right before an election saying he's against amnesty when just five years earlier he said: 'I support a guest-worker program for those here today illegally.'"
  • Gay rights groups on Wednesday condemned a shooting in Portland, Texas, that killed a teenage girl and wounded her girlfriend on Friday. Local police said they have yet to find any evidence of motivations that would point to a hate crime, and no suspects have been identified. "I think on some levels, regardless of the fact that they were gay, it’s a horrific crime that touches people just because of the simplest loss of life and that something like that happens in a small town,” Chuck Smith, deputy executive director of Equality Texas, told The Associated Press.
  • A judge has been temporarily appointed to the state's 3rd Court of Appeals to determine whether Diane Henson, a Democratic justice on the court, should be kept from ruling on Tom DeLay's appeal of his money-laundering case, the Austin American-Statesman reports. DeLay's attorneys have targeted Henson for a speech she made at the 2006 Texas Democratic convention while running for her seat. "I’m running for Place 3 on the 3rd Court of Appeals, which is the court that sits in Austin next to the state Capitol," she said in her speech. "It is the court of appeals that would hear the appeal of Tom DeLay, if by chance he was convicted."

Must-Read:

 

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