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The Highest Court in All the Land

Hot Topics | January 29th, 2021

Quick, what is the highest court in the United States?

If you answered the Supreme Court of the United States, then you may be in for a surprise.

There is one court higher than SCOTUS, and that is the basketball court that sits above the main courtroom where SCOTUS hears cases. Once upon a time the basketball court (which is smaller than regulation size) was a spare room used to house journals, but during the 1940’s it was converted into a small gym for SCOTUS employees. The basketball court has seen more than just b-ball: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was known to hold yoga classes in the space.

Today, clerks, off-duty police officers and other SCOTUS employees are allowed to use the court and the adjacent full-service gym and weight room. However, the basketball court is closed when court is in session since the sounds of sneakers and basketballs disturb proceedings in the courtroom below.

Biden hits Ctrl + Z

  • On Thursday, President Biden signed two orders that aimed to “undo the damage” done by President Trump. The first executive order required federal agencies to (1) open a special enrollment period for Obamacare from February 15 to May 15 and (2) review existing policies implemented by the Trump administration that could be limiting access to healthcare. Another presidential memorandum rescinded the Mexico City policy, which prevented federal funds from being allocated to foreign aid groups that provide abortion-related services. (The Hill)
    • Read more: Roll Call summarizes President Trump’s healthcare agenda: his accomplishments, his shortcomings and what President Biden might undo.

But do we have to?

  • On January 1, 2021, a new rule from the Trump administration took effect requiring hospitals to publicly post prices for every service, drug and supply they offer. As reported by The Washington Post, hospitals have been dragging their feet and compliance is inconsistent one month into 2021. According to the American Hospital Association, compliance officers are stretched thin. No matter the reason for non-compliance, the $300 per day penalty is insignificant for America’s large hospital systems.

Who gets the vaccines?

  • In a press conference with reporters, President Biden said he believes any American who would like a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by the spring. (The Hill) That being said, a report from Axios found the U.S. neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19 are being vaccinated at a slower rate than wealthier, whiter areas. These disparities can be found in cities and states across the country, and showcase the tradeoff between speed and equity in the vaccine rollout.

Getting schooled

  • A report authored by three researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in JAMA found there is “reassuring” evidence that widespread COVID-19 transmission is not occurring schools. Republicans have cited this report as evidence to exert pressure on President Biden to reopen schools. For his part, President Biden has called for schools to reopen, and has asked $130 billion to cover the costs associated with safe reopenings. (The HillThe HillThe Washington Post)

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