December 3, 2012
On June 28, 2012, in a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in its entirety. In doing so, the Court allowed an unjust and unconstitutional law to stand, joined the Obama administration in attacking our religious liberties and rights of conscience, and betrayed the American people.
This wasn’t the first time our Supreme Court made a bad decision. In Dred Scott v. Sanford, the Court ruled that slaves were not persons with rights but rather property with no rights. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court upheld unjust state segregation laws. More recently, in Roe v. Wade, the Court ruled that women have a “right” to kill their unborn children, resulting in a staggering 55 million innocent Americans being legally deprived of their First Amendment rights to life and liberty over the past forty years.
In each of these three cases, the Supreme Court used a certain rationale based on the Constitution to justify its faulty decision. When we read the written majority opinions in which these rulings were handed down, we’re impressed by their formal tone and struck by how dispassionate, logical, wise, and constitutionally sound they seem to be. Yet however well written and fair to read, these apparently brilliant opinions are all infected with the destructive germ of an erroneous conclusion resulting from one or more incorrect premises.
It’s the same story with National Federation of Independent Business et al v. Sebelius et al. The massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)—passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010—contains provisions that clearly violate our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to religious freedom as individuals, as religious institutions, and as businesses. In these provisions, the Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require employers to include contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in health insurance plans for their employees, even if they object to providing such coverage—and even if their employees object to receiving it—on moral or religious grounds. Furthermore, the Act imposes heavy fines on those individuals and entities who refuse to comply with the HHS mandate. This unprecedented mandate is in clear conflict with the First Amendment to our Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and prohibits Congress from making any law that would interfere with the free exercise of religion. Recognizing this, the National Federation of Independent Business along with twenty-six state governments and a host of private religious and educational institutions rightly filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. In this case, the minimum duty of the High Court was perfectly clear: to strike down those provisions of the PPACA authorizing the HHS mandate.
Yet after reviewing the Act, the Supreme Court somehow decided that everything within it, including the coercive mandate, is, in fact, “constitutional.” How did it come to this outlandish conclusion? Several erroneous premises were involved. The Commerce Clause of our Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce as well as to lay and collect taxes, served as the principal basis of the Court’s flawed ruling. In a nutshell, Chief Justice Roberts argued that the entire PPACA falls within Congressional authority to regulate commerce, and that the fines it imposes on those who refuse to comply with the HHS mandate are a legitimate exercise of Congressional taxing power. As for the mandate itself, the Court made the eye-popping discovery that it does not really violate the First Amendment because it is not really “coercive”: employees and health providers who object to it have a choice between acting against their consciences and paying the fines. The latter two premises are closely related, so we will discuss them together below.
Let’s take the Court’s first premise first: that the whole Affordable Care Act is a legitimate example of Congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce. A casual browse through the Act is sufficient to expose the phoniness of this argument. Its ten Titles, hundreds of sections, 900 pages, and $1,200,000,000,000 (1.2 trillion dollar) price tag speak of much more than just a few new regulations for the American healthcare industry. The PPACA represents nothing less than a wholesale takeover and transformation of our healthcare system by the federal government. The Act creates 159 new federal offices, essentially doubling the size of the Washington bureaucracy. It combines federal and state governments, health insurance carriers, pharmaceutical industries, healthcare providers and facilities, private charitable organizations, and individual American citizens into a single, seamless, all-encompassing national healthcare system funded by our tax dollars. Through the Act, our government now defines what “acceptable” healthcare coverage is and levies substantial new tax fines on individuals, employers and insurance carriers who fail to purchase or provide “acceptable” health insurance as dictated by the Act (in addition to the aforementioned fines for violating the HHS mandate). To say that the PPACA falls entirely within legitimate Congressional authority to regulate commerce is pure sophistry and insulting to the intelligence of the American people.
However, the most serious error in the Court’s decision lies in the two related premises that the fines for noncompliance with the HHS mandate are a legitimate exercise of Congressional taxing power, and that the PPACA does not really force employees to violate their religious liberties or conscience rights because they can simply choose to pay the fines if they object to obeying the law. To say that an employer has a choice between obeying the law or paying huge fines is akin to saying that a driver has a choice between obeying the motor vehicle laws or paying traffic fines. The idea that the person in either situation is really free to choose between two equally legitimate options is ludicrous. A fine is not simply a viable alternative to observance of a law; it is meant to ensure compliance with the law and to deter and punish noncompliance. We are only really free to choose to do what is right. If a law is just, the only right choice is to obey it. Under the new healthcare law, however, employers who refuse to furnish their employees with contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients for moral or religious reasons—as millions of employers all across America have been doing for decades—will suddenly find themselves forced to either a) obey the law and violate their consciences, b) break the law and pay steep fines, or c) go out of business. Those are not free choices; they are choices forced by the new law, which is an unjust law. Sorry Supreme Court, but this is blatant coercion in violation of the First Amendment. No one should be punished under U.S. law for refusing to violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions.
The PPACA is a huge windfall for the declining abortion industry, drug companies, the medical establishment, and the insurance sector. By ruling in favor of ObamaCare, the Supreme Court caved in to pressure from the Obama administration and from the handful of powerful corporate interests backing it, unjustly sacrificing our God-given, Constitutionally protected religious liberties and conscience rights on the altar of those private interests. The High Court abandoned its solemn duty to interpret the law in light of the Constitution and failed to exercise its proper oversight role with respect to the other two branches of government. Furthermore, the Court showed contempt and disregard for the will of the American people by upholding a piece of legislation that a large majority of citizens have consistently opposed from its inception. The infamous ruling clearly demonstrated that a few powerful corporate interests are now largely in control of our federal government and our court system. I can’t help but think of the following Scripture passage from the Book of Wisdom, chapter 6, verses 2 through 5:
Hear therefore, ye kings, and understand: learn, ye that are judges of the ends of the earth.
Give ear, you that rule the people, and that please yourselves in multitudes of nations:
For power is given you by the Lord, and strength by the Most High, who will examine your works, and search out your thoughts:
Because being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God.
Copyright © 2012 Justin D. Soutar. All rights reserved.