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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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While a case the Supreme Court decided in favor of the death penalty Monday focused on the use of a singular execution drug, Justice Stephen Breyer broke new ground in a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing that it was “highly likely” that capital punishment as a whole violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“[R]ather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time, I would ask for full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution," Breyer wrote.

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A special panel called to potentially discipline an African-American Kansas lawmaker for calling her colleagues racist voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint, but not without things getting "wild," according to local news reports.

State Rep. Valdenia Winn, a Democrat from Kansas City, faced possibly being censured or even expelled from the statehouse for what her fellow lawmakers said were inflammatory remarks. In the special hearing called Friday to weigh a possible punishment that the committee could have advanced to the House floor for a vote, the panel instead chose to dismiss the complaint.

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Leading LGBT groups were planning for all contingencies that could have come out of Friday's Supreme Court gay marriage decision. But just because the high court granted them a win doesn't mean their work is over.

“There we will be a lot of work by a lot of different people to enforce a Supreme Court victory,” Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s Marriage Project Director, told TPM earlier this week before the decision.

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Before the Supreme Court ruled Friday that marriage was a constitutional right same-sex couples, 15 states were not granting gay couples marriage licenses:

Alabama

Arkansas

Georgia

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Michigan

Mississippi

Missouri

Nebraska

North Dakota

Ohio

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

The gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee were at stake in the case the Supreme Court decided Friday, Obergefell v. Hodges. The marriage bans in Alabama, Kansas, and Missouri were in flux due to state resistance to previous court rulings against the measures. The marriage bans in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Texas were in effect before the Supreme Court's ruling Friday.

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Chief Justice John Roberts does not "begrudge" people for celebrating Friday's Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. But, he warned, the decision was also actually a loss for gay rights advocates.

"Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause," Roberts wrote in his dissent. "And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs."

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Officials in states where same-sex marriage was not legal before Friday's monumental Supreme Court decision should not get in the way of same-sex couples seeking to marry, the top LGBT rights group warned Friday.

The Human Rights Campaign sent letters to the governors and attorneys general of states that were not recognizing gay marriage prior to the Supreme Court's decision, discouraging them from delaying issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples any longer.

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In his dissent to Friday's monumental Supreme Court ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the five-justice majority of "constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine."

"So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me," Scalia wrote. "Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court."

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In voting to uphold Obamacare Thursday, the Supreme Court preserved health care insurance for millions of Americans, ended what is likely the last major legal challenge to the core elements of the president's signature legislative achievement, and bitterly disappointed conservatives who saw this case as the last best hope for mortally wounding the sprawling health care reform law.

Adding insult to injury, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who joined with Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal justices in the majority in King v. Burwell. Roberts authored the opinion himself in a case which was tailor-made by conservative legal activists to undermine Obamacare. Their challenge centered on a four-word phrase in the statute that the challengers said invalidated the subsidies offered to consumers in the states where insurance exchanges were operated by the federal government. Had the challengers prevailed, the subsidies for certain consumers in 34 states with federal exchanges would have been invalidated, insurance markets would have been massively disrupted in each of those states, and the Republican-controlled Congress would have tried to use the decision as leverage to force concessions from the President in future negotiations over Obamacare.

Other than that, no big deal.

Here's the rationale Roberts and the majority fashioned for upholding the Obamacare subsidies:

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Justice Antonin Scalia strongly objected to Thursday's Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, so it was amusing to see Chief Justice John Roberts use Scalia's own dissent in the last major Obamacare case against him.

It was buried in a footnote and amounted to a small dart lobbed Scalia's way, especially when compared to Scalia's blistering dissent that ripped Roberts' legal reasoning.

To defend making the subsidies available to consumers everywhere, Roberts cited a line the dissent to the 2012 decision in favor of Obamacare, in which Scalia said, "Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all."

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Chief Justice John Roberts may have upheld a crucial part of Obamacare in King v. Burwell, but not without a few choice words for Congress, accusing it of "inartful drafting" in crafting the law.

"The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting," Roberts wrote in his majority opinion for King v. Burwell. "Several features of the Act’s passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through 'the traditional legislative process.'"

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