By Gill Deford, Jane Perkins, Gary F. Smith & Mona Tawatao
With the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the line again and same-sex marriage up for review, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Term featured two very high-profile cases. The decisions resolving those issues also included significant content under the broadly defined rubric of access to federal courts. In addition, as always, many decisions that did not attract public attention raised important access issues. One of those, which analyzed the supremacy clause, may suggest increasing difficulty for Medicaid recipients and perhaps beneficiaries of other Social Security Act programs to bring challenges to their programs’ policies and practices. Here we summarize the new developments in statutory construction, deference, stare decisis, and the other issues of federal practice that can present either barriers or pathways to reaching the merits of federal court claims.