AALL Member Makes History with Citation in Supreme Court Opinion

By | 27 June 2015

John Cannan, research and instructional services librarian at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia, made the history books yesterday, June 25 2015. The United States Supreme Court opinion King v. Burwell cites Cannan’s Law Library Journal article, “A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History,” 105 Law Libr. J. 131 (2013).

Chief Justice Roberts cites Cannan’s article on page 14 of the opinion:

The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act’s passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through “the traditional legislative process.” Cannan, A Legislative History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163 (2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as “reconciliation,” which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate’s normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159-167. As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L.Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon “in which a senator tells his colleagues ‘I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We’ll just have to pass it to find out what it means.'”).

King v. Burwell, 2015 US 70, at 14.

King v. Burwell upholds a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that provides tax subsidies for the purchase of health insurance in all 50 states.

This is the second time that a Law Library Journal article has been cited by a Supreme Court Opinion; in 2010, Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Ins. Co. cited Jose R. Torres’ and Steve Windsor’s article, “State Legislative Histories: A Select, Annotated Bibliography,” 85 Law Libr. J. 545, 547 (1993).

Congratulations to John Cannan for this exciting achievement!

Holly M. Riccio
AALL President