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Settlement reasonable amid political pressure

By and   /   Friday, May 20th, 2016  /   Comments Off on Settlement reasonable amid political pressure

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Maybe there’s not a major Supreme Court decision lurking in every case that’s in the headlines.

That’s our takeaway from the court’s order to litigants in Zubick vs. Burwell, a case involving nonprofits seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide coverage for contraception. Among those seeking relief was Thomas Aquinas College of Santa Paula.

Unable to muster a majority after the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative, the nation’s high court sent the case back to lower courts and urged a settlement.

Presumably, that means abandoning the idea that religious groups must file a form seeking an exemption; checking a box on an insurance application would serve the same purpose.

That a solution could be found without yet another major test for the Affordable Care Act is a reminder that cases brought with confidence by one side can produce disappointing results. That’s why it is a win-win if Thomas Aquinas and its co-litigants can be exempted from the contraception rules of the ACA in a way that allows individuals to get coverage and does not require the college to make a declaration to the government about its religious principles that would potentially violate its First Amendment rights.

In another case in which a Supreme Court showdown was averted, Apple executives may have been willing to provide the government with information about experts who could unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists without unlocking it themselves. In that instance, the terrorist’s iPhone was accessed without explicit cooperation from Apple but with help from a third-party security firm that clearly knew how to unlock the Apple codes.

The government got a one-time look at data that helped with a national security investigation. And the Silicon Valley giant was able to protect the privacy of users’ information without a protracted court fight that could have resulted in a court’s order that it build a so-called “back door” to any phone’s data.

In the current polarized environment, it’s tempting to take every case as far as possible in order to advance a political position or make a political statement. The transgender bathroom issue in

North Carolina is yet another issue where a state law attempts to make rules that are impractical and that beg more legal action.

If a settlement in Zubick vs. Burwell can be reached and stick, it will be a victory for reasonable action in the face of extreme political pressure. The concept of reasonable action isn’t always the right path but it is the one on which the nation was founded.

Kudos to Yardi Systems

When the Business Times inducted Anant Yardi into our Business Times Hall of Fame on May 12, we did not know that the company was engaged in a major outreach effort to help Fort McMurray residents displaced by the fires engulfing the province of Alberta.

On May 16, the Canadian affiliate of Goleta-based Yardi Systems announced it had developed an online housing registry to help families find new homes. The site was developed in 72 hours and it will be provided free of charge to listing organizations for the next six months; some 7,000 rental units across Canada were already listed.

Yardi Systems and its owner are to be congratulated for their efforts.

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