Tax Away, Big Government! ACA Moves Forward

Well, that just put a lid on everything I had been planning to tell you about today.  How can you screech about a new video game, or crabby comboxes, or ice cream flavors, when our federal government continues to usurp cherished American freedoms?

Obamacare cannot be supported under the Commerce Clause, ruled the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote; but it can be implemented as a tax. 

Yessiree:  Despite President Obama’s multiple assertions that “This is not a tax,” a tax it is.  So said the Supreme Court, with Catholic Justice John Roberts as the surprise dark horse whose vote with the liberals to  interpret the ACA in a new way, not the way intended by the President, tipped the scales—essentially giving new life to the Affordable Care Act and giving the Obama Administration a big victory.

One of the more interesting quotes emanating from the Court—a quote which will likely be used again and again by the Bishops, the Republicans and all who oppose government intrusion into religious life—came from Justice Ruth Ginsberg.  Ginsberg said (emphasis mine):

A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, inter­fered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.

The U.S. Bishops were quick to release a statement, outlining their continuing concerns  about the Affordable Care Act.  In summary, the USCCB cited three major areas of concern:

  • First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy.
  • Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context
  • Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly.  ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money.

You can read the bishops’ full statement here.

The battle is not over; I’ll see you at the polls in the fall.

The Bishops Have Spoken—Now Let YOUR Voice Be Heard.

By now I’ll bet you’ve heard: On March 14, the U.S. Bishops released a response to the White House statement regarding the HHS Mandate.

Depending on where you get your news, you may have heard that the bishops seem to have “calmed down” or are preparing to “accept the accommodation.”

The editors of America magazine embarrassed themselves with an editorial
encouraging the bishops to get over it and accept the White House’s program—with the result that the White House felt confident in lecturing USCCB staff on how to interpret Catholic teaching in light of the HHS mandate.  The hubris of this Administration was recognized even by the Wall Street Journal, which called their ideology “chilling.”  Thomas Peters (American Papist) highlighted the WSJ’s editorial:

As a study in ideology and power, the anecdote [of the White House meeting] is chilling, compounded by all the recent claims by Democrats and liberals that Catholics who actually abide by their faith are opposed to modernity.  Such prejudice is supposedly defunct in contemporary America, except when it’s practiced against religion.

Actually, the Bishops are NOT caving to pressure, are NOT giving up in their rightful defense of the Catholic Faith. The key points of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s new statement, which represents the unified voice of all the U.S. Bishops, are:

  1. Government has no place defining religion or religious ministry.
  2. We will continue to seek protection for conscience rights of institutions and individuals.
  3. We will continue to explore all opportunities for action, whether with the public, the White House and Congress, or through the courts.

This dispute, Cardinal Dolan reminds us:

  • Is not about access to contraceptives, which are easily affordable without subsidies by the Church.  Rather, it is about the government’s forcing the Church to provide them.
  • Is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything.  Rather, it is about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings.
  • Is not a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal issue; rather, it is an American issue.
  • Is not about the Church’s opposition to universal health care; rather, the Church has voiced its concern about health care for all since 1919.
  • Is a concern not just for the Catholic Church, but also for “those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block.”

Please go to the USCCB website to read the statement in its entirety.

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Well, of course, you should contact your legislators:  Call the White House, your Congressman, your Senator.  Voice your concerns in the public square.  Tell your friends to do the same and explain to them, once again, that this is NOT about the Church trying to prohibit birth control.

I’d like to recommend two other, specific ways to become involved:

Visit www.StopHHS.com. There you’ll find news updates, watch videos, read a message from radio host Al Kresta, and network with other like-minded Americans who want to preserve and protect our constitutional rights.  You can sign the citizens’ petition calling for a rescission of the HHS Mandate, and learn how to organize a petition drive in your own community.  (There were more than 76,000 signatures last
time I looked—Add your name to the list!)

Participate in the Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom. The Rally is scheduled for Friday, March 23 at noon, local time, outside federal buildings, Congressional offices and historic sites across the country.  The theme for the Rally is “Stand Up for Religious Freedom—Stop the HHS Mandate!”

Thousands of Americans of all faiths will be participating in these peaceful rallies, organized by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society to oppose the new mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires all employers provide free contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, even in violation of their consciences.

Religious leaders and other public figures will speak out against the HHS Mandate at each Rally site. Holding signs reading “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” and “Stop the HHS Mandate,” participants will offer hymns and prayers for our nation and pass out literature to the public about why the HHS Mandate is unconstitutional and Un-American.

You can join your voice to the voices of thousands of other citizens, and help Washington to understand how seriously we regard any assault on our First Amendment liberties.  Last I heard, more than 110 locations had been chosen across America.  To find a Rally location near you, to organize a Rally in your own area, to register or to obtain more information, go to http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/.

Obama Runs Roughshod Over the Constitution, Then Calls the Bishops?

Here we go again.  After losing in a landmark 9-0 ruling before the Supreme Court last week in the case of Hosanna Tabor Church and School v. the EEOC, the Obama Administration is moving boldly forward once again to crush religious liberty in America.

The issue this time is whether religious organizations will be forced to include contraception coverage in their health insurance plans.  At 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), announced that HHS would ignore the concerns of religious employers regarding HHS rules mandating health insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception—including “morning-after pills” that cause abortion.  Religious organizations, which had asked for a wider conscience exemption which would have allowed religious groups to “opt out” of funding contraceptives and sterilization procedures for their employees, were granted a one year extension, but must comply with the law.

Despite a strong public protest by Catholic and other faith groups, as well as by individual citizens, President Obama continues to insist that we must all have abortion coverage, and that we must all pay for it, for ourselves and for others.

According to Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter, the President telephoned Archbishop Dolan this morning to give him the news, in advance of the formal statement by Sebelius.  Winters writes:

“…one sentence in the statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stands out: “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.”

What can those words “fully committed” possibly mean? They have punched Sr. Carol Keehan and Fr. Jenkins and many other Catholics who have taken shots for this Administration in the nose. They have jumped over the First Amendment to coerce religious organizations to do something we find morally objectionable. They have given people who loved the Affordable Care Act reason for pause, great pause. They have given the Republicans a huge battering ram with which to beat swing voting Catholics over the head.

The USCCB has rushed to issue a formal statement.  Here is the video by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the USCCB, expressing his shock and discouragement about the President’s policy. 

This case is, I believe, sure to be overturned by the Supreme Court.  It’s just unfortunate that the Obama Administration couldn’t have learned their lesson with the Hosanna Tabor case.

More to follow.