Supreme Court issues two big decisions on Monday

The Supreme Court handed down decisions on Monday that could affect voter identification in elections and the possible price of generic drugs at your pharmacy.

states maps voterlawsIn Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, the court sided with the federal government, saying that Arizona’s evidence-of-citizenship requirement for voting is pre-empted by the federal National Voter Registration Act.

Link: Read The Decision

In a 7-2 majority decision, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Arizona’s voter-approved Proposition 200 interfered with the national “Motor Voter law,” which was designed to make voter registration easier.

Under the Motor Voter law, applicants attest to the fact that they are citizens, under penalty of perjury, by checking a box on a form.

Link: Detailed Case Preview

Arizona argued that Proposition 200 was a “sensible precaution” to prevent voter fraud and guarantee the sanctity of elections. Civil rights groups said the proof of citizenship requirement was a barrier to voting, particularly for lower-income groups.

And in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, the court ruled in a 5-3 decision that financial deals between drug makers that hold patents and potential generic competitors could be challenged in court—but one case at a time.

Link: Read The Decision

The decision from Justice Stephen Breyer is a partial victory for each side. The FTC wants to eliminate deals that allow patent-holding companies to pay competitors to keep cheaper, generic versions of their drugs off the market for a fixed period of time.

In turn, the court’s ruling doesn’t completely eliminate reverse payments, or “pay for delay” deals.

“A reverse payment, where large and unjustified, can bring with it the risk of significant anticompetitive effects,” Breyer said. The court said “pay for delay” deals can be evaluated in court under a test known as the “rule of reason.”

Link: Detailed Case Preview

The rule of reason concept dates back to the court’s ruling in Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States from 1911, and it says that courts should consider the circumstances under which a potential anti-trust action is committed.

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