Hobby Lobby At The Supreme Court

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties case about the companies’ right to manage their businesses according to the religious beliefs of their owners. Breitbart.com has a summary of some of the dialogue that went on in the Court.

Some of the highlights:

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, arguing for the plaintiffs, began, “When a federal government agency compelled employers to provide something as religiously sensitive as contraception, it knew that free exercise and RFRA claims would soon follow.”

He went on to quote RFRA’s language applying its protections to all federal statutes and regulations unless Congress specifically provides otherwise, both those already on the books and those to be enacted in the future. Congress later broadened RFRA to protect “any exercise” of religion, unless the government can show the burden on faith is the least restrictive means to accomplish a truly compelling public interest. This test is called “strict scrutiny” in constitutional law, an extremely demanding standard that few government actions survive.

…Sotomayor also pointed out that organizations have the option of dropping all insurance coverage and paying $2,000 per employee, per year, for violating what is called the ACA’s employer mandate. Clement objected that the Green family—owners of Hobby Lobby—consider it a form of Christian ministry to provide healthcare for their employees. He also said this was a choice for Hobby Lobby of between paying a $475 million penalty for violating the abortion mandate or a $26 million penalty for violating the employer mandate.

…Although it’s certainly not definite who won the case, at least four justices seemed to side with religious objectors over the Obama administration’s mandate, and very likely a fifth with Kennedy. (Even Justice Stephen Breyer said several supportive comments during argument, but it’s probably too much for the plaintiffs to hope they picked up a sixth vote.)

There are other issues regarding which millions of Americans are currently asserting religious objections. Hobby Lobby could include pronouncements on several principles which could tip those issues one way or the other in court.

The decision on the case will not be released until June.

The thing to remember in watching this case is that the case is not about birth control–it is about abortion. Healthcare plans at Hobby Lobby already provide for birth control–at issue is ‘after the fact’ birth control, which simply causes an abortion. The mandate in ObamaCare is the government’s first step toward federally-funded abortion, which is now illegal under the Hyde Amendment. If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties can be forced to include abortion pills in their healthcare plans, despite the religious beliefs of their owners, the government will be able to limit the religious freedom of all Americans.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The American (the online magazine of the American Enterprise Institute) posted an article yesterday by Marc Theissen about some recent actions by President Obama regarding the Supreme Court.

The article reported some events this week in a Boston, Massachusetts, court:

On Wednesday, oral arguments took place over another law passed by a “strong majority of a democratically elected Congress” — the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Indeed, both cases feature the same lawyer — former solicitor general Paul Clement — who delivered the argument against Obamacare before the Supreme Court last week and in defense of DOMA before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit this week.

Why is Clement, and not the Justice Department, defending this law in federal court? Because the Obama administration announced last year that it had decided that it would no longer defend DOMA in court. Quite the opposite, the Justice Department is actively urging district courts around the country to … you guessed it … overturn this law.

The irony here is that DOMA was passed by a “strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” In the House the vote was 342-67, and in the Senate the vote was 85-14. That actually is a strong majority.

Last year in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Attorney General Eric Holder stated:

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination.

So the President and the Attorney General have decided only to uphold those laws that they happen to agree with.

Has anyone in this administration read the U. S. Constitution?


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Yesterday At The Supreme Court

Paul Clement was the lawyer arguing at the Supreme Court on behalf of Florida and the other states who are challenging Obamacare.

I have listened to a large part of his argument against the idea that the Commerce Clause allows the government to force people into commerce in order the regulate them rather than to regulate the people who are already engaging in commerce. I believe that Obamacare as it is written is not constitutional, but we shall see what the court decides.

The discussion I have heard is that if Obamacare is found constitutional, the idea that our government is a government of enumerated limited powers is over. If the individual mandate part of Obamacare is found constitutional, be ready to have the government require you to join a gym, eat certain foods, purchase a car, etc.

We will have to wait until June to know what the outcome of this case will be, but hopefully Obamacare will die with the individual mandate.

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