The End Of Privacy As We Know It

For whatever reason, the British newspapers do a much better job of reporting news in America than American newspapers. Yesterday the U.K. Mail posted a story stating that the Department of Health and Human Services has hired more than 1,600 new employees since May 2010.

The article reports:

A total of 1,684 of those positions were filled. An analysis by MailOnline shows that at 2010 federal government salary rates, the new employees’ salaries alone cost the U.S. at least $138.8 million every year.

Had the agency filled all its available jobs, that cost would have been a minimum of $159 million.

The hiring began in May 2010 and continued through June 2013, making the later hires eligible for higher salaries as a result of annual cost-of-living increases.

The difference between what HHS spent on new Obamacare-related employees and what it was authorized to spend is explained by its failure to hire most of the 261 ‘consumer safety officers’ it was authorized to bring aboard. Only two such employees were hired.

But while OPM authorized HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Carter — later renamed Denise Wells — to hire 50 criminal investigators, the agency increased that number to 86 on its own.

When I first heard the idea of refusing to fund ObamaCare, I thought it was a bit drastic. However, after seeing the detective force that is being formed to spy on Americans, I think Congress needs to stop ObamaCare any way it can. If ObamaCare is allowed to move forward, it will unleash a new dimension of spying on Americans.

 

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Good News For Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby has opposed the Heath and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring them to provide contraception and abortion services to their employees since the mandate was written. Because of this opposition, they have faced fines of $1.3 million a day that were supposed to begin on January 1st of this year. Needless to say, they have fought the fines in court. (previous articles on this case can be found at rightwinggranny.com and rightwinggranny.com).

Hobby Lobby has opposed the mandate on religious grounds. CNS News posted an article on Friday detailing recent events in the court battle between Hobby Lobby and the HHS.

A press release from the Becket Fund (the law firm that is handling the case) states:

Today, for the first time, a federal court has ordered the government not to enforce the HHS abortion-drug mandate against Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The ruling comes just one day after a dramatic 168-page opinion from the en banc 10th Circuit recognizing that business owners have religious liberty rights. This was the first definitive federal appellate ruling against the HHS mandate.

“Hobby Lobby and the Green family faced the terrible choice of violating their faith or paying massive fines starting this Monday morning,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represents Hobby Lobby. “We are delighted that both the 10th Circuit and the district court have spared them from this unjust burden on their religious freedom.”

In its landmark opinion yesterday, the 10th Circuit majority found that “no one” – not even the government – “disputes the sincerity of Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs.” The court ruled that denying them the protection of federal law just because they are a profit-making business “would conflict with the Supreme Court’s free exercise precedent.”

Today, following the 10th Circuit ruling, the trial court granted Hobby Lobby a temporary restraining order against the HHS mandate.  Further proceedings are scheduled for July 19, 2013, in Oklahoma City.

So what is this case really about? Do religious people have the right to practice their religion outside of the walls of their church or synagogue? If you are in business, is it legal for your religion to impact the way you do business? Does the Salvation Army have the right to only hire those people who share their beliefs? Do Catholic adoption agencies have the right to adopt children to families that will raise the children with Christian values?

The bottom line here is simple. Does the First Amendment allow you to practice your religious beliefs in your everyday life?

I find this discussion somewhat ironic. A website called Religion and the Federal Government reminds us:

It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson’s example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House–a practice that continued until after the Civil War–were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting-style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a “crowded audience.” Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers.

Jefferson’s actions may seem surprising because his attitude toward the relation between religion and government is usually thought to have been embodied in his recommendation that there exist “a wall of separation between church and state.” In that statement, Jefferson was apparently declaring his opposition, as Madison had done in introducing the Bill of Rights, to a “national” religion. In attending church services on public property, Jefferson and Madison consciously and deliberately were offering symbolic support to religion as a prop for republican government.

The website also contains a picture of Thomas Jefferson’s letter discussing the “wall of separation between church and state.” Reading that letter in context makes it obvious that Jefferson was opposing the establishment of a national religion–not the practice of religion by the American people.

If the free exercise of religion was good enough for the founders of America, it should be good enough for their descendants!

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Where Was This Reported In The News ?

Breitbart.com reported today that the a federal judge has ruled that the supposed “safe harbor” in the mandate was not adequate to protect religious organizations, including the New York Archdiocese, from suffering imminent harm from the mandate. Because of this judge’s ruling, the archdiocese’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate in ObamaCare can move forward.

In his weekly column at the archdiocese’s website, Cardinal Timothy Dolan pointed out that none of the local media had reported the archdiocese’s victory.

The article reports the judge’s comments on allowing the case to move forward:

“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution,” Judge Cogan remarked. “To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction.”

The judge noted that the archdiocese could be saddled with millions of dollars in fines should the HHS mandate take effect. “Ignoring the speeding train that is coming towards plaintiffs in the hope that it will stop might well be inconsistent with the fiduciary duties that plaintiffs’ directors or officers owe to their members,” Judge Cogan said.

The HHS mandate is an attack on the freedom of conscience afforded to those employers who provide health insurance coverage for their employees. The Obama Administration has also restricted the right of conscience of those who currently work in the medical field.(rightwinggranny.com). As government grows, our individual rights shrink. It’s time Americans began to push back against the small, subtle taking of our individual freedoms.

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More Legal Action On ObamaCare

Today’s Daily Caller is reporting that on Wednesday a federal appeals court blocked the implementation of the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide health care plans that include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

The article reports:

Missouri business owner Frank O’Brien, who employs 87 people at O’Brien Industrial Holdings, alleged in the lawsuit that led to the injunction that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on his religious beliefs.

…The order by the three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits HHS from forcing O’Brien to comply with the mandate, until the court issues a substantive ruling on the matter. The injunction order is not a final determination on the merits of O’Brien’s case or the constitutionality of the mandate.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) also reported on this case yesterday:

In October, a federal district court judge granted the Obama Administration’s Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. The ACLJ immediately filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In an order issued today, the appeals court granted the ACLJ motion requesting an injunction pending an appeal.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2012, marked the first legal challenge to the HHS mandate from a private business owner and his company. Until the suit was filed, only religious organizations or institutions brought lawsuits challenging the mandate.

…In addition to the O’Brien case, the ACLJ has filed two other direct challenges to the HHS mandate and filed amicus briefs backing other challenges in more than a dozen cases.

I believe that it is unconstitutional for the government to require Americans to buy health insurance, much less tell employers what health insurance has to include. I hope one of these cases makes it to the Supreme Court and this time the Supreme Court makes the correct decision–I think the Supreme Court’s last decision on Obamacare was incorrect.

Statement By The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

This is the statement regarding last night’s Vice-Presidential debate issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on October 12:

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

For more details, please see USCCB’s regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed “accommodation”: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf

 

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Another Lawsuit Regarding The Health And Human Services’ Birth Control Mandate

CNS News reported yesterday that a court in Michigan will hear arguments against the Obama Administration’s Birth Control mandate on September 26.

The article reports:

The lawsuit aims to permanently block implementation of the Health and Human Services requirement that employees and individuals to obtain insurance coverage that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-producing drugs without any cost-sharing. The HHS mandate imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception, the Law Center (the Thomas More Law Center) said in a news release.

The lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality of the HHS mandate because the mandate limits the rights of business owners to freely practice their religion.

The article states:

“Judge Cleland’s decision to expedite the briefing schedule and set a quick hearing date for oral arguments on our motion for a preliminary injunction against the Government was crucial,” said Thomas More Law Center attorney Erin Mersino. “It best serves our goal of protecting the religious freedoms of our clients. Without the Court’s timely intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion,” he added.

The question of whether or not the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment is definitely headed to the Supreme Court. As I reported on July 28 (rightwinggranny.com), a Colorado company called Hercules Industries won a court case in the Tenth Circuit regarding the HHS mandate that companies provide birth control services in the health insurance policies.

As reported on July 28:

A federal court issued an order Friday that halts enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against a Colorado family-owned business while an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit challenging the mandate continues in court.

I am sure there will be much more to come on this issue.

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The Next Step In Obamacare

On August 1, business owners must change their health insurance offerings to include abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization services.

Heritage.org reports today:

But for many employers, offering the types of services required under the HHS mandate violates their consciences. It conflicts with their deeply held religious beliefs. And the government is telling them that doesn’t matter—what’s more, it’s telling them that their beliefs are inconsequential, and they must pay.

Just last Friday, a judge in Colorado gave one business’s owners the first glimmer of hope that their religious freedom may survive this attack.

On Saturday I reported the story of Hercules Industries (rightwinggranny.com). The owners of the company went to court because the mandate to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization services violated their religious beliefs. The court has halted the implementation of that part of Obamacare that would violate the religious beliefs of the company’s owners until the  court case is settled.

The article at Heritage.org reports:

How did it come to this? During the legislative battle over Obamacare, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously said that Congress would need to pass the law to see what was in it. She was right about one thing: Obamacare as it passed was not fully formed. The law gave unprecedented new powers to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fill in countless details, directing the ways Obamacare would affect all Americans. With this law, Congress handed over immeasurable authority to HHS. And Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been hard at work trying to convince Americans that this is all in their best interest.

There is no reason to believe it will end here, which is why it is vital to halt this attack on religious freedom as quickly as possible. As Ludvigson explains, this first HHS mandate “raises significant questions about what more Obamacare will require on other matters of deeply personal religious and moral significance, such as prenatal care, end-of-life issues, and parental authority for minors’ health decisions.”

More than 50 plaintiffs—for-profit and non-profit alike—have gone to court against the HHS mandate. In winning an injunction that prevents the mandate’s enforcement on its business while the case goes to trial, Hercules has demonstrated the strength of the religious liberty challenge to Obamacare.

If we value our religious freedom as Americans, we need to vote for people in November who will repeal Obamacare.

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