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Religious Right and the Tea Party weighs in on health care ruling

Religious Right and the Tea Party weighs in on health care ruling

Today, the United States Supreme Court held that the personal mandate in the Affordable Care Act — dubbed "Obamacare by the religious right and Tea Party — is constitutional.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance is valid as a tax, even though it is impermissible under the Constitution's commerce clause.

Romney Vows to Repeal 'Obamacare as Millions in Donations Flood In.

Within hours, the Republican party's presumptive nominee Mitt Romney announced that more than $3.2 million in campaign donations had come in as a result of the Court's decision.  While Romney is currently claiming that his first act as president, if elected, would be to repeal the health care mandate, such an act would be unfeasible since it would require Congressional approval.  Additionally, critics point out that Romney had instituted a similar plan in the state of Massachusetts when he was governor there and spoke out in favor of the individual mandate that forced everyone in the state who could afford to purchase health insurance to do so or else face tax penalties:

With regards to the mandate, the individual responsibility program which I proposed, I was very pleased to see that the compromise from the two houses includes the personal responsibility principle. That is essential for bringing health care costs down for everyone.

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Revenge of the Tea Party.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, issued the following statement concerning the political implications of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare:

"The 2010 Tea Party wave election was all about the average American's anger over the individual mandate and the oppressive big government that it represents. The Supreme Court's narrow decision upholding the individual mandate has raised that anger to a revolutionary fervor that will sweep President Obama and many other Democrats from office.

"Democrats have now been put in the position of doubling down on the Big Brother mandates and oppressive big government policies that led to their historic defeat in the 2010 congressional elections.

"The more Democrats defend the individual mandate, the more seats in Congress Democrats will lose.

"It is worth noting that Obama and the Democrats lost on the heart of the mandate — that, under the Constitution's Commerce Clause, they could force Americans to buy health insurance — but the mandate was upheld on the issue the Democrats were trying to hide: It is a massive tax increase on the American people.

"The 2010 Tea Party wave showed that Americans outside the Beltway have had enough of big government, big spending, and big taxes from Washington. The 63 House seats the Democrats lost in 2010 are just the beginning."

Legal Arguments and Dissenting Opinions.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel sat down with the American Family Association's issues analyst, Bryan Fischer, to discuss the decision from a legal perspective. He said that the Supreme Court's ruling would have been worse if the health care mandate was upheld under the Commerce Clause because it would have been much more difficult to repeal. Most of the oral arguments had centered on the Commerce Clause.

When Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices, he did a tremendous disservice. If he was going to do that, he should have had the case re-argued to have it briefed on that issue [the tax issue as opposed to the Commerce Clause issue], but he didn't. He went over and sided with the liberal justices on taxing and spending. It's absolutely ridiculous.

According to Staver, the Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the tax issue because a tax had not been enforced and paid yet.

Staver and Fischer think that Justice Roberts undermined Americans' confidence in the Supreme Court. Staver added,

I think he has hung a millstone around President Obama's neck. Now, this is the largest tax in American history, a tax on the middle class, and I think people will go to the polls en masse in November and as 2008 gave us Obamacare, I think 2012 will take it away.

Fischer and Staver believe that the "pro-family movement" and conservative base is now energized to elect a majority of conservatives to take over the House, the Senate, and the White House. Staver thinks that "this is the worst possible scenarios that Obama could have."

"Roberts has unleashed a hideous monster with devouring jaws," Fischer said, quoting the dissenting opinion, about the federal government's ability to compel people to purchase something that they might not otherwise purchase. Quoting page 10 of the dissenting opinion, "The government was invited at oral argument to suggest what federal controls over private conduct could not be justified as necessary and proper for the carrying out of a general regulatory scheme? It was unable to name any. […] If every person comes within the Commerce Clause power of Congress to regulate by the simple reason that he will one day engage in commerce, the idea of a limited government power is at an end."

According to Fischer, personal liberty died on June 28, 2012.

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FRC:  The American Dream Has Become the American Nightmare.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that the health insurance law "can only be described as the government's takeover of the health care system."  In a press release and video, the Family Research Council complained of abortion funding and warned that "the American dream gave way to a real American nightmare:"

FRC uncovered and rallied opposition to the taxpayer funding of abortion contained in the bill and after its narrow passage continued to fight the measure in the courts. FRC's legislative advocacy arm, FRC Action, scored the votes on the Obama health plan in its annual scorecard, and aired a national TV/radio ad campaign against the legislation.

FRC submitted an amicus brief, authored by legal counsel Ken Klukowski in Florida v. HHS, that was cited by federal district Judge Roger Vinson in his decision to strike down the entire Obama health plan as unconstitutional. FRC submitted another brief, also authored by Klukowski, in NFIB v. Sebelius cited by the National Federation of Independent Business in its brief before the Supreme Court.

Of the decision, Family Research Council Legal Counsel Ken Klukowski, J.D., made the following comments:

"The Supreme Court has today given the federal government unlimited authority to use its tax power to require Americans to engage in specific commercial activity. The obvious implication is chilling: Uncle Sam can make you buy anything, at any price, for any reason," said Klukowski. "That's why today, the American dream gave way to a real American nightmare. President Obama's vow about 'fundamentally transforming the United States of America ' was fulfilled. The Supreme Court essentially said it cannot articulate any limiting principle on the power of the federal government.

"By ruling that the law is constitutional, the Supreme Court gave the federal government the power to order private citizens to enter into contracts with private organizations and give those organizations their money. This ruling fundamentally transforms the federal government from one of limited and specified powers in the Constitution to an all-powerful central government with plenary power over every area and aspect of Americans' lives from cradle to grave."

Of the Supreme Court's decision, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Today's Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families.

"The Obama administration has created, for the first time in American history, new federal regulations that toss aside the constitutional right to religious freedom by forcing religious institutions and employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations.

"It's now time to replace those leaders who disregarded the constitutional limitations of their authority and the deeply held religious beliefs of their constituents, voting for the government takeover of healthcare. We must repeal this abortion-funding health care law and restore the Constitution to its rightful place," concluded Perkins.

Contraception, Women's Choice and 'Religious Liberty.'

"We will not comply with this socialistic and oppressive law that forces us to not only purchase insurance we may not want, but more importantly, forces us to violate our consciences and fund abortion coverage," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. "We must demand that Congress change the law for the good of our nation. If Congress will not change it, we still will not comply."

Miffed over Justice Roberts' swing vote, Gualberto Garcia Jones, Legal Analyst for Personhood USA declared, "Enough is enough. Placing all of our hopes in judicial appointees has proven to be a disaster. It is time to have an honest conversation about where we go from here. Personhood is a strategy in which the end is a federal constitutional amendment recognizing the right to life of every human being, and the best way to achieve the goal in our lifetimes is to create the necessary social tension by passing state-level measures. The movement must unite behind personhood because today's decision demonstrates clearly that judges cannot be trusted to protect our rights. Ending abortion will require us to demand equality for every human being and assert the power of the people to initiate life-affirming social progress."

Abortion and contraceptive issues, however, are still on the table, as Bill Donahue's Catholic League thundered in a statement released shortly after the Court's decision:

The Supreme Court did not rule today on the constitutionality of the right of the Obama administration to force Catholic non-profits to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization in their insurance plans; this Health and Human Services (HHS) edict was issued after the high court accepted the ObamaCare bill. Eventually, this particular issue will reach the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court decision lacks clarity, the Catholic response will be anything but ambiguous: the battle lines between the bishops and the Obama administration are now brighter than ever. Fortunately, not only do practicing Catholics overwhelmingly support the bishops, tens of millions of non-Catholics also do.

ObamaCare may have survived, but it is by no means a lock that the HHS mandate will. It is one thing to levy a tax, quite another to level the First Amendment.

Flashback:  Did  the Religious Right's God Listen?

Rep. Michele Bachmann and Lou Engle prayed during the Family Research Council's 2009 "Prayercast" to stop the passage of healthcare reform legislation.

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About D.

  • This just goes to show that the Religious Reich doesn't give a damn about anyone but themselves and the rich people who can support their agenda.

    • Deborah_B

      Admittedly, I am not a big fan of the Affordable Care Act because at least 20 million will still be uninsured and I don't see this as helping those of us middle class people who can only afford policies with huge deductibles — I'm more for a single payer system with something like Medicare advantage as a component or perhaps a mechanism to opt out and get private insurance with some sort of tax break for doing so. Nonetheless, what strikes me about why the religious right is so upset is (1) the part that everyone seems to object to — the individual mandate — was a Republican idea and (2) the "religious liberty" aspect about abortions/contraceptives has not yet been decided by the courts.

      • Yes, I, as well as my mother, would like Medicare for everyone also. My mother would like to see me (as well as others) receive the same health care coverages she receives from Medicare. The last thing we need though, is for the courts to rule in favour of "religious liberty" concerning women's health care though.

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