A lawsuit filed against the government over the Department of Health and Human Services’ requirement that Christian company owners violate their beliefs and fund abortion services under the guise of health insurance accuses Barack Obama’s administration of attacking Catholics.
“Had plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, or the beliefs of the million other Americans who share plaintiffs’ religious beliefs been obscure or unknown, the defendants’ actions might have been an accident,” alleges the lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of business owners and a Catholic organization.
“But because the defendants acted with full knowledge of those beliefs, and because they arbitrarily exempt some plans for a wide range of reasons other than religious conviction, the mandate can be interpreted as nothing other than a deliberate attack by the defendants on the Catholic church, the religious beliefs held by plaintiffs and the similar religious beliefs held by millions of other Americans.”
A press aide contacted by WND in the office of Health and Human Services Department Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined to respond to the claim.
Richard Thompson, Thomas More’s president and chief counsel, explained: “Whether you are a Catholic or Protestant or have no religion at all, the free exercise of religion and right of conscience is our most fundamental human right and must be vigorously defended on behalf of all Americans. Or else our Constitution becomes nothing more than a piece of paper with nice sounding words. That’s why I believe every American regardless of religious beliefs has a stake in the successful outcome of this lawsuit.”
The goal of the action, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is to obtain a court ruling that permanently blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate “requiring employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.”
It explains the mandate, under the Obamacare legislation that takes over health-care decision-making, was promulgated by Sebelius. The HHS chief admitted to not having considered the implications of the religious rights of Americans. It states the mandate violates the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion and free speech and the establishment clause.
It also claims that the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act adopted by Congress.
Defendants include Obama’s cabinet members Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
The plaintiffs include Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business CEOs and professional leaders, Weingartz Supply Co. of Michigan and its president, Daniel Weingartz, also a member of Legatus.
The lawsuit explains: “This is a case about religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of our country, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president, when describing the construct of our Constitution proclaimed, ‘No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.’”
The case seeks a declaration that the mandate violates the Constitution and cannot be enforced.
Further, the case explains that Christian beliefs were targeted because there have been “numerous exemptions” to the requirements “which appear arbitrary.”
“This evidences that defendants do not mandate that all insurance plans need to cover ‘preventative services,’” the complaint said.
“Despite granting waivers upon a seemingly arbitrary basis, no exemption exists for an employer or individual whose religious conscience instructs him that certain mandated services are unethical, immoral, and volatile to one’s religious beliefs. Defendant’s plan fails to give the same level of weight or accommodation to the exercise of one’s fundamental First Amendment freedoms that is assigns to the yearly earnings of a corporation.”
While the major challenge to Obamacare is pending now before the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s unlikely that the issue will be fade away.
“We are already looking beyond June and preparing for years of new court battles over health care mandates,” explained Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.
Pacific Justice attorneys said they see several major flashpoints, depending on the decision of the court.
“Litigation will continue on separate grounds against the contraceptive mandate that more recently sprang from PPACA regulations developed by HHS,” the organization reported. “Further down the road, the courts would also need to clarify the scope of the religious exemption to the individual mandate, and countless more federal regulations related to the law have yet to be written.”
Even should the court overturn the entire law, the Obama administration already has had two years of work – and money – to install the various restrictions, limits and oversight included in Obamacare. Would it be possible for those simply to become null and void?
And further, if the individual mandate or the entire law is banished, Dacus “expects an immediate push in states like California to enact their own universal health care.”
“California lawmakers have come close to taking such a step within the last few years but have so far deferred to President Obama’s plan. A state-based approach would present new legal challenges since key limitations like the Commerce Clause do not apply to them,” the report said.
“We’re not waiting around for June,” Dacus said. “We will be crafting contingency plans and mapping out legal strategies to promote freedom and keep government power in check.”
Van Irion, of Liberty Legal Foundation, raised the prospect that the entire process could be restarted because of the position of the arguments presented to the Supreme Court.
He noted that both sides were in agreement that the case Wickard v. Filbum is a good law of the land.
That ruling concludes that if an individual does anything to enter “commerce,” the government effectively can regulate anything linked to it. The high court upheld an order that a farmer grow less wheat, even though he planned to use it for his family, because his decisions affected interstate commerce.
“Liberty Legal Foundation has been warning you about this since the beginning. I was still hoping for a pleasant surprise. I was hoping that one of the lawyers arguing against Obamacare would make some statement that Wickard leaves no limits on congressional authority. But it didn’t happen,” Irion told supporters in a newsletter.
“The lawyers opposing Obamacare all argued that the test from Wickard is valid, but that the individual mandate goes too far. Their argument is that the individual mandate forces individuals into commerce. They concede that once an individual has entered commerce by performing any affirmative act, Congress can essentially do anything to that person in relation to the commercial activity. They claim that the individual mandate is different because a person who has done nothing can be forced into commerce. They urge the court to add to the Wickard standard a requirement that Congress can’t regulate a person until that person voluntarily enters commerce by performing some affirmative act,” he explained.
“This is an enticing argument. It might temporarily kill the individual mandate in its current form. However, it must be understood that this proposed new requirement would not limit Congress in any way. You see, any ‘non-activity’ can also be described as an activity by simply changing perspective. The government has already demonstrated this by arguing that the current individual mandate regulates activity, not non-activity. The government argues that the individual mandate is a regulation of the decision to not purchase insurance. Making a decision, they argue, is an activity. This is just one example of how a non-activity can be re-defined as an activity,” Irion said.
“Before you think that such an absurd argument could never work, remember the Wickard standard: A farmer growing wheat on his own land for use by his own family on his own farm is interstate commerce because if many other farmers did the same thing it would reduce demand on the interstate wheat market. This logic is as twisted as the new absurdity: making a decision to not act, is activity. Never underestimate the ability of power-hungry men to twist logic.”
He said should that belief be in the majority, there will be “no real limits on Congress.”
“Even if the court rejects the government’s current argument that making a decision is an activity, the government will find another way to describe non-activity as activity,” he said. “In other words, even if the court strikes down the individual mandate, if they do it for the wrong reasons we will see the individual mandate back again under another name.”