Supreme Court of the United States

President Obama won a series of huge victories in the Supreme Court last week, including health care and same sex marriage. And officials in South Carolina called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds after nine African Americans were gunned down in a Charleston church. Here & Now’s Robin Young asks historian Julian Zelizer to put the week into historical context.

OG&E's coal-fired power plant in Muskogee, Okla.
Granger Meador / Flickr

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday blocked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to curb mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants across the country.

Dr. Ervin Yen holds a prescription for Midazolam
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

The Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol Monday. The case centered on a single drug, midazolam, that’s now used as part of a three-drug cocktail. Critics claim it is unreliable during executions and cannot produce a “deep, coma-like state” on a regular basis.

But in hospitals across Oklahoma, the drug is being used by anesthesiologists very frequently.

tedeytan / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. In a 5-4 decision Friday, the justices struck down bans on gay marriage that were in place in several states across the country.

Same sex marriage has been legal in Oklahoma since October 6, 2014, but neighboring states like Texas and Arkansas have enforced bans.

Read the decision from Obergefell v. Hodges

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court on Thursday after the ruling that Affordable Care Act subsidies are constitutional.
Ted Eytan / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act means that more than 80,000 Oklahomans can continue to receive federal subsidies to help them pay for health insurance.

It will be days, possibly weeks, before the full impact of the ruling is assessed. In this Q&A, Oklahoma Watch addresses some of the immediate issues raised by the ruling.

Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court on Thursday after the ruling that Affordable Care Act subsidies are constitutional.
Ted Eytan / Flickr

Thursday morning the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of federal tax subsidies for the federal Affordable Care Act. The 6-3 ruling affects 87,000 Oklahomans who receive the insurance subsidies designed to make access to health care cheaper.

Subsidies were also at risk in 33 other states that didn't established a state-run marketplace. Instead, residents had to purchase their insurance through a federally run program.

President Obama dines with young Muslim leader's during Monday's annual Iftar celebration at the White House.
The White House / Twitter

Samantha Elauf, the Muslim woman from Tulsa who won a Supreme Court case against clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch after they didn't hire her when she showed up to a job interview wearing a headscarf, dined with President Obama Monday night during the White House's annual Iftar dinner.

It’s the seventh Iftar hosted by the president, a breaking of the fast at sunset during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Elauf was one of eight guests seated at the president’s table during the event with a special focus this year on young leaders and women.

U.S. Supreme Court West Facade.
UpstateNYer / Wikimedia Commons

Updated May 1 at 12:15 p.m.: Listen to the oral arguments from Wednesday's Supreme Court hearing on Oklahoma's death penalty challenge. 

Original post below:

Exactly one year after a botched execution in Oklahoma, the state’s new lethal injection protocol came under intense questioning Wednesday by a divided U.S. Supreme Court, with the pivotal justice, Anthony Kennedy, doing little to tip his hand.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday morning on Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol and whether the use of a new sedative might cause cruel and unusual punishment. 

Justices took turns asking heated questions to both Robin Konrad, who represents the Oklahoma death row inmates, and Oklahoma Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is often the pivotal vote in close cases. He remained quiet through the hearing and did little to reveal which way he was leaning.  

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in three death penalty cases testing which drug combinations constitute cruel and unusual punishment when used to execute a convicted murderer by lethal injection.

It is the second time in seven years that the justices have looked at the lethal injection question, and it comes after three botched executions over the past year.