Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Supreme Court orders rehearing in health care case
Julia Zebley at 8:35 AM ET
To illustrate with a very much simplified example: Idaho law would distinguish the following two cases. Case One: The defendant, due to insanity, believes that the victim is a wolf. He shoots and kills the victim. Case Two: The defendant, due to insanity, believes that a wolf, a supernatural figure, has ordered him to kill the victim. In Case One, the defendant does not know he has killed a human being, and his insanity negates a mental element necessary to commit the crime. In Case Two, the defendant has intentionally killed a victim whom he knows is a human being; he possesses the necessary mens rea. In both cases the defendant is unable, due to insanity, to appreciate the true quality of his act, and therefore unable to perceive that it is wrong. But in Idaho, the defendant in Case One could defend the charge by arguing that he lacked the mens rea, whereas the defendant in Case Two would not be able to raise a defense based on his mental illness. Much the same outcome seems likely to occur in other States that have modified the insanity defense in similar ways.Breyer was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
The Court also released a per curiam summary judgment [opinion, PDF] in Nitro-Lift Technologies, LLC v. Howard [docket] that the Oklahoma Supreme Court had erred by not following the Federal Arbitration Act [text]. "By declaring the noncompetition agreements in two employment contracts null and void, rather than leaving that determination to the arbitrator in the first instance, the state court ignored a basic tenet of the Act's substantive arbitration law."