How Will Obamacare Fare?

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard three days of oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.  So, what did they discuss…and what comes next?The question at the heart of this hearing was: Does the government have the power to force every American to buy health insurance?  This is also known as the individual mandate issue.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is a conservative but has historically been known to swing his vote to the more liberal end, appeared concerned about the individual mandate, saying that it carries a “heavy burden of justification” under the Constitution.

The hearing also considered the question of how much of the law should remain if the Court decides against the individual mandate.  Essentially, the Court may decide to strike down the whole Obamacare law, or they could strike down only one part of it – the individual mandate.  On this issue, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated:

“We would be exercising the judicial power if one act was — one provision was stricken and the others remained to impose a risk on insurance companies that Congress had never intended.”

Justice Scalia summed his opinion up tightly: “My approach would say if you take the heart out of the statute, the statute’s gone.” [emphasis added]

Another question that arose during these hearings surrounded the idea of the Medicaid expansion included in the law, which would give states more federal Medicaid funding if they agree to enroll more of the poor.  If the states refuse, they have to pull out of the program altogether, which is really not an option, many states say – the Medicaid program has grown so large that it would be impossible to run it without any federal funding.  This begs the question: Does this violate limits already set by the Supreme Court, which state that the federal government cannot impose conditions “so coercive as to pass the point at which pressure turns into compulsion”?

Though both sides of this health care reform argument have tried to surmise the outcome of the hearings, Justice Antonin Scalia voiced his concern about the ruling, remarking, “I find it hard to think that this is clear.  Whatever else it is, it’s easy to think that it’s not clear.”

The Solicitor General defending Obamacare, Donald Verrilli Jr., appealed to the Court to essentially leave the decision to Congress and the people of America:

“The Congress struggled with the issue of how to deal with this profound problem of 40 million people without health care for many years, and it made a judgment. Maybe they were right, maybe they weren’t, but this is something about which the people of the United States can deliberate and they can vote, and if they think it needs to be changed, they can change it.”

Also, this week President Obama issued something sounding an awful lot like a warning against striking down the health care law, saying:

“I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I'd just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint -- that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”

Although the decision is most likely already made, we will not hear the high court’s conclusion for about another three months, as they write up their decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.

Obamacare Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court

For the next two days, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, the case to determine whether Obamacare is constitutional or not. Obamacare has come under fire from many different groups, and there are several questions that need to be answered:

  • Is Obamacare unconstitutional because of its individual mandate, stating that every person must buy health care, and doesn’t this constrain individual freedom and violate the Constitutional concept of limited government?
  • Because there is a penalty for not buying health insurance, will that penalty be considered a tax or a fine?
  • Does Obamacare use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions?

Although the individual mandate question is certainly the most contested and controversial, we find the last question regarding abortion coverage to be as important as any other. According to Obamacare policy, enrollees in certain insurance plans will be required to pay a $1 surcharge every month, above their plan fees, for abortion services, whether they plan to use them or not, or whether they believe in them or not.  They will only be informed of this surcharge only one time, upon enrollment in the program – meaning it could simply be one sentence in a giant insurance plan document.  In addition, people won’t be able to opt-out of the abortion surcharge without opting out of the entire insurance plan.

This sounds a lot like forcing Americans to fund abortions, doesn’t it?  If Obamacare is allowed to endure, countless Americans, many of whom are pro-life, will be paying for abortions out of their own pockets.

We will be eagerly watching as this U.S. Supreme Court review unfolds over the next few days, and we ask that you join us in prayer as this monumental decision is made in our nation’s highest Court.

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.

Historical Lessons: Has America learned or are we doomed to repeat it?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."George Santayana, philosopher and poet

I have recently read and heard political leaders and writers who have expressed concern regarding our democratic form of government.  In one instance, presidential candidate Ron Paul was quoted as warning that the United States is “slipping into a fascist system where it’s a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of individual rights of each and every American citizen.”       

While some commentators think that this statement is too extreme, there can be no question that our individual liberties are, in fact, eroding.  In a similar vein, I have recently read comparisons of the progression that is occurring in the United States to the progression that occurred in Nazi Germany.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the world watched in horror as Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany, sought dominion throughout Europe, and orchestrated one of the most deadly genocides then known to mankind.  It is easy to look back at history from our vantage point and ask: Where were the German Christians, and why didn’t they confront this tragedy en masse?  Why didn’t they do more to protect life, individual rights, and religious liberty?

We must ask ourselves these very questions now, or generations to come may look back at this very time in history and ask: Why did my parents, grandparents and other Christians silently allow the government to take away our individual liberties?  Why didn’t the Christian Church take a coordinated public stand in defense of religious liberty?

I am not saying that our government is akin to Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime.  However, the suppression of individual liberties in America today, like the suppression of individual liberties in Germany before the war, can only be accomplished when the conscientious citizens of this Nation are silent and do nothing.

In the early 1930s, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he stated his belief that Christianity was the “unshakeable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people,” yet the ultimate ideals of the National Socialist movement were hostile towards religion.  Leading into the Holocaust, Hitler instituted a plan to strip away the religious liberties of German citizens.

Hitler slowly eroded the rights of the Christian Church—he permitted a remnant of worship but eliminated the church’s cultural influence.  After signing a concordant with the Catholic Church and establishing the German Christian Church (which upheld Nazi principles), Hitler and his administration gradually began to suppress the rights of Evangelical Christians and Catholics—ending denominational and youth organizations, prohibiting denominational schools, and widely defaming and imprisoning clergy of the Christian Church who refused to be silent about the truth.  The goal was to get the German people away from the Church’s conservative beliefs and on board with the Nazi’s radical plan of racism and aggressive warfare.

In modern day America, we often hear our leaders voice a shallow reverence toward our Christian heritage, while the actions of those same leaders show little respect for our heritage.   Even though our current administration has stated a belief in the faith of our Founding Fathers and the importance of religious liberty, many of its actions undermine the rights of religious institutions.

Most recently, “Obamacare” requires all businesses, including many religious organizations, to provide birth control and sterilization services free of charge to employees.  When the Catholic Church, whose teachings prohibit the use of any type of birth control, spoke out against this policy, President Obama offered a feeble “compromise,” saying the insurance company (instead of the church or religious business) would pay for the birth control.  But who ultimately pays the insurance company in the end?

We see an increasing progression of hostility by governmental officials and media toward Christians for expressing their faith in the public arena.  Christian student groups, such as the Christian Legal Society, are banned from recognition on campuses.  Christian groups are banned from using public facilities.  The so-called “separation of church and state” is beat like a war drum by governmental officials while the IRS threatens religious organizations with removal of tax exempt status for taking a stand on political issues.

Even our “war on terror” has adopted an alarming perspective.  A new report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), issued in January 2012, details what activity to look for in a potential terrorist through its campaign titled “If You See Something, Say Something.”  The campaign encourages Americans to report suspicious behavior which includes the following characteristics: fiercely nationalistic, reverent of individual liberty, anti-abortion, speaking out against government policies, holding gold, and stocking up on more than 7 days of food.

My point is that we must not succumb to a hopeless attitude when our God-given, inalienable liberties are being eliminated by our government.  This is why we fight for our clients and against policies that limit our individual and religious liberties—because we believe that if we don’t take action now, there may be a time in the future when it is too late to fight.

Please take courage and make your stand now—in the voting booth, in the public square, at work, and in your schools.  Raise the awareness and cherish your liberty!

Robert Tyler, General Counsel

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.

"Obamacare" Offers Little Room for Religious Liberty

Recently, the Obama administration announced that, as part of Obama’s healthcare mandate known as “Obamacare”, religious and church-affiliated institutions will have to cover free birth control for their employees.  Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, said that nonprofit religious organizations could have an additional year to implement this new requirement. The backlash against this new policy came immediately after the announcement.  Religious institutions will have to comply with this condition, or fight back, or else drop healthcare for their employees altogether and pay a fine to the government.  This particular mandate does give a very limited religious exemption to the rule, but still, only “certain religious employers” will be able to take this protection.  It is not enough.  (You can find the specific religious exemptions at http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/) What about the freedom of conscience that should be afforded to these religious workers?  If something goes directly against their moral beliefs – such as use of contraception or sterilization – how can they, with good conscience, provide this for their employees?

Sister Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association, responded to this new mandate, saying, “This indicates the need for an effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic society, which has always respected the role of religions.”

Time will tell how many religious institutions will take a stand and defend their religious freedoms and their right to freedom of conscience.  If you work for a religious or church-affiliated organization and are concerned about your rights in this matter, please contact Advocates.

This information is provided by Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a non-profit religious law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts!  To help us in our ongoing battle for religious freedom, click here to donate to Advocates.

ObamaCare – One Mandate Down

Although the national health insurance debate may not directly relate to religious liberty, we felt the Eleventh Circuit’s refreshing decision concerning health care is certainly worthy of reporting.  Last week, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the individual mandate required in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known as “ObamaCare”) is unconstitutional.

According to the Court, Congress cannot "mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die."

The Court further went on to say:

“Few powers, if any, could be more attractive to Congress than compelling the purchase of certain products. Yet even if we focus on the modern era, when congressional power under the Commerce Clause has been at its height, Congress still has not asserted this authority. Even in the face of a Great Depression, a World War, a Cold War, recessions, oil shocks, inflation, and unemployment, Congress never sought to require the purchase of wheat or war bonds, force a higher savings rate or greater consumption of American goods, or require every American to purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle.”We celebrate the 2-1 majority vote of the Court to call the ObamaCare mandate unconstitutional.  Since this decision differs from another federal appeals court ruling earlier this year which upheld the individual mandate, this case will very likely go to the US Supreme Court next.

Once a new federal law is established, there are often hundreds of pages of regulations adopted by non-elected officials who implement the law. ObamaCare has raised serious concerns regarding how politicians and regulators will use this new law to promote abortion and other causes that are repugnant to the Christian faith.

If the Supreme Court does not overturn ObamaCare for its individual mandate, we will monitor the implementation of ObamaCare in order to protect religious liberty and traditional values.  We will keep you updated on what happens in the ongoing case of ObamaCare.

Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

Last Monday, January 31, Judge Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court in Florida ruled that President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as Obamacare – is unconstitutional. According to the Judge, the individual mandate that all Americans must buy health insurance is invalid, and he stated, “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

This case involved state attorneys from a total of 26 states – over half of our country!  This decision proves that we the people still have a say in what is right for our country and that Congress cannot violate the principles of our Constitution.  Our Founding Fathers established the fact that big government is not better, and we citizens must have the freedom to direct our personal lives and matters.

This case will likely be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we will stay tuned to see if this high court will uphold the Constitution and limit the overextending reach of Congressional power.