U.S. Supreme Court Roundup

Justices won’t hear dispute over access to health records


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear a dispute between West Virginia health officials and a patient advocacy group over access to medical records.

The justices on Tuesday let stand a state court ruling that said federal laws protecting health record privacy don’t prevent Legal Aid of West Virginia from reviewing patient files at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals.

For more than two decades the legal aid group has helped psychiatric patients file grievances over alleged abuse and neglect. State law allows access to patient files without written consent.

But state officials began restricting the group’s access to patient files in 2014, saying it violates federal privacy laws.

A state circuit court sided with the patient advocates. The state supreme court agreed.

State officials argued that federal law trumps state law.

 

Justices reject tobacco firms’ appeal over  state payments


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear appeals from tobacco companies that wanted to reduce payments owed to Maryland and Pennsylvania.

After a federal arbitration panel in 2013 cut the annual payments by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA, and others, state courts ruled that was wrong. The justices are leaving those rulings in place. The payments reimburse the states for smoking-related health costs.

A nationwide settlement in 1998 allowed tobacco companies to seek a reduction if they lost market share to competitors not participating in the agreement. States could avoid the reduction if they diligently enforced laws against non-participating companies.


 

Justices won’t hear dispute over Arizona judicial candidates
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t take up a dispute over Arizona rules that prohibit some candidates for elected judgeships from soliciting campaign contributions or participating in somebody else’s campaign.
The justices on Tuesday left in place a lower court ruling that rejected a constitutional challenge to parts of Arizona’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Arizona lawyer Randolph Wolfson challenged the rules after twice running unsuccessfully for a judgeship in Mohave County. He argued that the rules infringe on candidates’ free-speech rights and were too broad to serve the state’s interest in having an impartial judiciary.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rules.

 

Ginsburg calls anthem protest ‘dumb and ­disrespectful’
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has called the protests of football players who decline to stand for the national anthem “dumb and disrespectful.”

In a wide-ranging interview posted Monday on Yahoo , Ginsburg said she had the same opinion about flag burning.

“I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it,” she said. “I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes have received national attention for refusing to stand for the anthem this year. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons.

“If they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive,” Ginsburg said. “If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”

The 83-year-old justice made news this summer after criticizing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Critics called her comments inappropriate for a sitting justice, and she later said the comments were “ill advised.”
In her latest interview, Ginsburg declined to weigh in when asked whether Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country is constitutional. She said the issue could end up before the high court.

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