Obamacare Lawsuits Mount as Notre Dame Joins Scrum of Opponents
Hours after the University of Notre Dame filed a religious challenge to the U.S. health-care overhaul in Indiana federal court, a judge in Washington heard arguments in a lawsuit assailing tax provisions of the statute.
The cases underscore the persistent and diverse nature of legal attacks on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act even as the Obama administration struggles to fix bugs in HealthCare.gov, the online marketplace for health insurance created by the measure.
Obamacare litigation continues partly because questions about its legitimacy as a piece partisan legislation are unresolved, said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an opponent of the act. The statute passed Congress without Republican support in either the House or Senate.
It doesn’t matter what motivates the plaintiffs bringing those challenges as long as “their legal arguments are sound, because that’s what the courts are looking at,” Shapiro said.
The suit in Washington, in which a federal judge yesterday heard arguments for an immediate verdict, was brought by seven individuals and businesses from six states. At least three similar complaints have been filed in Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana. All challenge some of the federal government’s authority to offer tax credits to subsidize health insurance for poor people under Obamacare.
The complaint Notre Dame filed yesterday, alleging that the law’s requirement health plans cover birth control violates Roman Catholic teaching, is a re-filing of a lawsuit dismissed in December on procedural grounds.
The Notre Dame case is among 86 lawsuits attacking Obamacare on religious grounds, according to Erin Mersino, trial counsel at the Thomas More Law Center, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Christian-based public interest law firm.
Forty-one of the cases involve primarily Catholic nonprofit groups such as Notre Dame and take issue with the birth control mandate, Mersino said. The other 46 were brought by for-profit entities whose owners argue the contraception provision violates their religious freedom, she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 26 agreed to hear two cases from the for-profit group involving the craft store chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. They, too, claim an exemption from covering employees’ birth control on religious grounds.
The dispute will be the court’s first look at President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment since a majority of the justices upheld the core of the law in 2012.
The court on Dec. 2 declined to hear an appeal by Liberty University, a Virginia school founded by the late evangelical preacher and activist Jerry Falwell, which lost a lower-court case arguing the law’s employer mandate exceeded Congress’s power over interstate commerce.
The suits by nonprofit religious groups are less advanced in the courts because the Obama administration delayed the birth control mandate for a year as it sought an accommodation with them.
While the religious cases have drawn attention because of their number and high-profile plaintiffs such as Notre Dame and the Archdiocese of Washington, they don’t threaten the viability of Obamacare, according to Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
“They’re challenges to one particular part of one particular regulation,” Jost said. “They’re very important cases, but I don’t think they mean much for the Affordable Care Act.”
The tax cases, involving federal subsidies to people shopping for insurance on government-run marketplaces, or exchanges, present a “significant challenge” to the law because, if successful, they could prevent millions of people from buying coverage, Jost said.
Plaintiffs in those suits argue the language of the health- care legislation allows subsidies only for people using state- run exchanges, not the federal government’s.
Thirty-three states, including Ohio, Texas and Florida, declined to set up exchanges.
“No legitimate method of statutory construction would interpret the phrase ‘established by the state’ in the ACA’s subsidy provisions to mean ‘‘established by the state or federal government,’’ according to a brief filed by plaintiffs in the case argued yesterday in Washington.
That argument will probably fail because courts look on laws as a whole, not narrow slices of language, and ‘‘it’s clear Congress meant for the federal exchanges to be treated the same as the states’ exchanges,” Jost said.
Shapiro, of the Cato Institute, said the tax credit cases could “have legs.”
“There’s a very strong technical argument that the challengers are bringing,” Shapiro said. “It’s not some sort of glitch or scriveners’ error. Congress wanted to incentivize states to create these exchanges.”
At least one other case challenges the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s origination clause, which requires revenue-raising measures to originate in the House, not the Senate.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington in June rejected that argument as made by Matt Sissel, an Iowa man, concluding the challenged bill originated in the House even if it was completely rewritten by the Senate.
The cases are Notre Dame University v. Sebelius, 3:13- cv-01276, U.S. District Court, North District of Indiana (South Bend), and Halbig v. Sebelius, 13-cv-00623, U.S District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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Conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh batted at President Obama for citing Pope Francis in his recent speech on the American economy.
“What does Obama do? he rips the country,” Limbaugh said on his show Wednesday. “You know, that still frosts me. Obama out quoting the Pope. … Folks, if you missed this. You’ve got to hear this. This is the President citing the Pope. His new best friend. Because the Pope is ripping America. The Pope ripping capitalism … and Obama’s having an orgasm.”
Limbaugh was referring to Obama’s speech, also on Wednesday, in which he quoted Francis.
“Some of you may have seen just last week, the Pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length,” Obama said. “‘How can it be,’ [Francis] wrote, ‘that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?’”
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Immigration Judge Rules Obama’s Uncle May Remain in US
A federal immigration judge ruled Tuesday that President Obama’s uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, may remain in the United States, the Boston Globe reported.
U.S. Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro issued his ruling from the bench, saying he thought the Kenyan had met the criteria for legal permanent residency, commonly known as a green card.
“Welcome to America,” Shapiro told Onyango, the Globe reported.
Shapiro based his decision on a federal immigration law that allows people who have lived in the United States since before 1972 to apply for residency.
“Thank you, Your Honor,” Onyango Obama, 69, said after the ruling.
During the hearing, Onyango Obama testified that “I do have a nephew; he’s the president of the United States,” saying the future president stayed with him for three weeks while a student at Harvard Law School in the late 1980s.
Onyango Obama, with the help of the president’s late father, came to the United States in 1963 from their native Kenya under a student visa.
Immigration rulings obtained by the Globe show he was ordered deported in 1986 and 1989, then lost an appeal in 1992. The issue arose again after he was arrested on drunken-driving charges in 2011.
After his arrest, he allegedly told an officer, “I think I will call the White House.”
But Onyango Obama on Tuesday testified that he didn’t recall saying that, the Globe reported.
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
House Blocks Obama Administration’s Fracking Regulations
Harry Reid To Force Nuclear Option, Change Senate Rules, Cut A Path For Obama Nominees UPDATE: Rules Changed
Stabbing Israel in the Back
Unknown – Unknown, November 5th, 2013
How Many Lies Can The White House Tell Before The Walls Collapse?
Next week, the U.S. Congress will dedicate a bust of Winston Churchill at the U.S. Capitol. The bust is being placed pursuant to H. Res. 497, a measure authored by Speaker John Boehner and passed by the House shortly before the 70th anniversary of Churchill’s wartime address before a Joint Session of Congress on December 26, 1941.
“Placing a bust of Churchill in the Capitol is a fitting recognition of his service to the cause of freedom and his friendship to the United States,” Boehner said at the time. “Next month, we will come together to salute this great statesman and honor his legacy of persistence, determination, and resolve.”
In advance of that dedication ceremony, the Speaker’s office has released this sneak preview of the event:
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John Myers writes an interesting piece today. We do not necessarily agree with all of his article but it was thought provoking.
Exceptionally Incompetent Obama Has The Temerity To Talk About Exceptionalism
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.
Once Upon A Time
Barack Obama is only the latest in a jostling crowd of presidential candidates, presidential wannabes, major politicians, and minor figures of every sort, not to speak of a raging horde of neocons and pundits galore, who have felt compelled in recent years to tell us and the world just how exceptional the last superpower really is. They tend to emphasize our ability to use this country’s overwhelming power, especially the military variety, for the global good — to save children and other deserving innocents. This particularly American aptitude for doing good forcibly, by killing others, is considered an incontestable fact of earthly life needing no proof.