This article originally appeared on Late Nights With Jim Bohannon on June 29, 2015.
The Supreme Court announced its decisions in this term’s two most controversial cases – Obamacare subsidies and same-sex marriage – but the Court’s term doesn’t actually end until tomorrow. They announced four key decisions today, and made the choice to revisit a previous decision next term. One of today’s rulings, on the EPA expanding its powers under the Clean Air Act, we will explore in detail a little later in the show. First, we will speak with a return guest, Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) of the Washington Examiner, about the Supreme Court’s decisions today to allow the states to use independent commissions to redraw Congressional district lines, to allow the continued use of the controversial sedative midazolam in lethal injections, and to place a hold on court rulings that have reduced the number of abortion clinics in Texas. Plus, next term, the Justices agreed to take up a new challenge to affirmative action in university admissions, a case that has the potential to end the practice of affirmative action altogether.
Possibly the most far-reaching of the Supreme Court decisions handed down today had to do with the Environmental Protection Agency. In its zeal to improve air quality, the EPA expanded its powers under the Clean Air Act to further regulate pollutants coming out of power plants, especially older, coal-fired plants. The Court today blocked the EPA’s newest rules designed limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants, saying the EPA could not ignore the cost of regulation when promulgating new rules. Today’s decision does not strike down the EPA’s rule, but it does mean the agency will have to review and rewrite it, taking costs into consideration. In the meantime, plants will have to comply with the current rule until a revised one is issued. Today’s Court decision is a big win for the energy industry and could affect similar cases being brought against expansion of EPA powers under the Clean Air Act in other areas. We’ll discuss today’s Court ruling with a return guest: Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Remember the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation? The chief engineer, Geordi La Forge, was blind and used a device known as a VISOR to see – a band across his eyes wired into his nervous system at the ears. By the time the series graduated to the movie screen, the VISOR had been replaced by a pair of bionic eyes, not looking that different from anyone else’s. That was science fiction, but the idea of an assist for vision beyond glasses, contact lenses, and LASIK surgery is closer to reality than you think. A Canadian optometrist has invented an artificial lens that he says not only corrects a patient’s sight, it improves it to a clarity three times greater than normal 20/20 vision. It’s called the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, and it cost over three million dollars and most of a decade to bring to reality. In an eight-minute surgical procedure, the Bionic Lens is substituted for the patient’s natural lens. Clinical trials are underway with the goal of bringing the Bionic Lens to market within two years. We’ll discuss this breakthrough tonight with noted optometrist Dr. Albert Pang.