When the Supreme Court hears arguments at the end of March about ObamaCare, the question of the rights of individuals and the states will be center stage. But if the court upholds all or parts of the law, this will just be the beginning of many years of legal challenges to this deeply unconstitutional law.
ObamaCare violates the Constitution down to its “very DNA,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch in a speech on the Senate floor on February 9. “At its core, the law and its expansion of government are a threat to personal liberty…As the state controls more and more of our lives to further a political agenda, our freedom is put in greater and greater jeopardy.”
The mega-controversy over ObamaCare’s mandate for “free” preventive care is the most recent example.
The issue is being disguised as a fight over whether women should be guaranteed access to “free” sterilization procedures and contraceptives, including drugs that cause abortions. But the real question is over whether health plans and employers can be compelled to provide products and services that violate their religious beliefs.
“Religious freedom — which has been called ‘our first liberty’ — is ingrained in the very fabric of our national culture,” Sen. Rand Paul wrote recently. “But HHS and the administration have decided that their goal of state-run health care trumps our first liberty. What the president is attempting to do here is something generally witnessed only in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes.”
At its core, ObamaCare challenges the Constitution’s guarantee that religious organizations and individuals are free to follow the teachings of their faith without government intrusion. Numerous lawsuits already have been filed challenging this mandate, including by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Many more will follow.
Two key constitutional questions are before the Court in this term: First, the court will decide whether families can be compelled to spend up to $20,000 of their personal money to buy a private product – expensive health insurance – every year for the rest of their lives, or pay a fine. The Obama administration argues government does indeed have this power under its hugely-expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Second, the court is being asked to decide whether states can be compelled to dramatically expand access to their Medicaid programs, which many states say could bankrupt their treasuries. The constitutional question here is the meaning of states’ protection from federal incursion under the Tenth Amendment. The states are basically being commandeered by the federal government to implement key aspects of the health law. If they refuse, the federal government will come in and take over.
Other challenges to ObamaCare are simmering: Arizona’s Goldwater Institute is challenging the unconstitutional Independent Payment Advisory Board – 15 unelected technocrats who will be making decisions about spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare money – a job explicitly delegated by the Constitution to ELECTED Members of Congress. IPAB, which will become ObamaCare’s rationing board for Medicare, will have powers never before given to unelected officials to control billions of dollars in Medicare spending.
And we see the Obama administration is able to violate the Constitution even in its implementing rules for the health law, evidenced by the new edict that the White House touted as an “accommodation” to the Catholic Church.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been vociferous in objecting to the Obama administration’s demand that health plans must cover “free” contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The concession to the bishops was that the health insurance companies would instead provide them for “free,” separately from the church organizations’ health benefit packages.
But this edict from the administration is a violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” This is no solution – on religious, moral, or economic grounds.
ObamaCare is so fundamentally at odds with the principles upon which this nation was founded that the court challenges to the law will be endless.
The Supreme Court will hear an unprecedented 5½ hours of arguments from March 26th through 28th about ObamaCare, and it will issue its decision most likely in late June.
Former Attorney General Ed Meese said recently that the Supreme Court decision is “the most important case the Court has considered in 100 years.”
The outcome will determine whether our rights, as protected by the Constitution, will prevail or whether we will face years and years of court battles to protect us against the growing dominance of the federal government. This is the battle for liberty in our time.
Posted on Forbes: Health Matters, February 16, 2012.