As I have written about in columns and testimony, the most significant challenge to Obamacare was never Hobby Lobby but Halbig vs. Burwell that has been pending in the D.C. Circuit. I described Halbig in my testimony as a live torpedo in the water for Obamacare. Well, that torpedo just hit. The D.C. Circuit has found that the Obama Administration effectively rewrote the law on a critical provision dealing with tax credits and state exchanges. It is another major blow against the Administration and more importantly another judicial finding that President Obama exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws.
Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
House hopeful Gavin Seim declined to agree to a required use permit in placement of his campaign signs calling the permitting and removal of his signs a violation of his free speech and his right to participate in government.
Moses Lake City Manager Joe Gavinski claims the policy somehow protects the public. The city’s government permits six campaign free speech zones within its jurisdiction.
By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor
“Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me, but the one who sent me.’ “
-Gospel of Mark, Ch. 9, verses 36-37, New American Bible (Thomas Nelson, 1989)
“If kids come in my backyard, I’ll shoot them.”
-unidentified Murietta, California resident protesting the sheltering of undocumented child immigrants (July 1, 2014)
“Collective fear,” wrote Bertrand Russell, “stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” The ugliness in Murietta, California several weeks ago provided ample evidence, if any were needed, of the power of collective fear. But even more disturbing than the angry shouts at frightened children unable even to understand the words hurled at them has been the reaction of political leaders. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Gov. Rick Perry demanded that the President dispatch National Guard troops to the border, for who knows what purpose. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R. Texas) has been even more vocal. Most of you may recall Rep. Gohmert’s rants several years ago about “anchor babies” born in the United States to be trained as terrorists. This time around he is claiming that the Administration is encouraging the influx of unaccompanied children as part of a plot to turn America “blue” and “ensure Republicans will never get elected again.” Of course, that will require that all of these tens of thousands of children survive the various diseases with which he also claims them to be infected and carrying over the border. Rep. Gohmert could be dismissed as another congressional crackpot but for the fact that he currently serves as vice chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. (more…)
Back in March of this year—during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—Sahil Kapur (Talking Points Memo) said he thought that the conservative Supreme Court Justices “appeared broadly ready to rule against the birth control mandate under Obamacare.” He added that “their line of questioning indicated they may have a majority to do it.” Kapur reported that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito “expressed no sympathy for the regulation while appearing concerned for the Christian business owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood who said the contraceptive mandate violates their religious liberty and fails strict scrutiny standards under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”
During oral arguments, Justice Scalia said, “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?”
There are a couple of things I think Justice Scalia should know. First, the four contraceptive methods that Hobby Lobby objected to paying for—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—are not abortifacients. They do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus—which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider to be abortion. Instead—according to the Food and Drug Administration—the four contraceptive methods in question prevent fertilization of an egg. Second, the cost of intrauterine devices can be quite considerable—especially to a woman working for minimum wage or for a company like Hobby Lobby.
The US Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee just approved the transfer of $351 million to Israel for the Iron Dome missile defense system — that will bring the appropriations this week for Israel to $621 million. There has been virtually no debate about such huge payments to another nation’s defense budget when cities and schools continue to cut back on programs for lack of fund. In Fairfax county, our kids are being placed in classes of over 30 kids with a single teacher because there is no money to hire more staff. Congress has cut historic programs and environmental projects for lack of a few million dollars but approves these transfers with little debate. It is not just Israel, as we have previously discussed, but the continuation of huge expenditures abroad in various countries from Pakistan to Iraq to Afghanistan to Egypt. It is not necessarily the ultimate appropriation decision as much as the lack of any discussion on such budgetary priorities and policies that is so striking.
This morning I will be testifying as the lead witness before the House Rules Committee on the authorization of litigation by the House of Representatives to challenge the unilateral actions of President Obama. The authorization makes it clear that the House will focus on the ACA changes. The hearing will begin at 10 am in H-313 in The Capitol building. It will be aired live on C-Span 3.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
We have heard the phrase for quite some time now. “Corporations are people”. It sounds so simple, but what does it mean in practice? The corporate structure is designed to protect individual shareholder assets from creditors of the corporation. If you maintain your corporate structure requirements and corporate book, the individual’s assets cannot be attached or claimed by a creditor of the corporation.
Corporations are also afforded special tax breaks and tax rates that individual persons cannot take advantage of. How has the Hobby Lobby decision altered or not altered the corporate veil protection provided to corporations? (more…)
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Democrat congressional hopeful Estakio Beltran published a rather unique campaign ad on YouTube. In the video he declares: “They call me a long shot. They say I can’t win in this district. But what happens to an elephant when it stands around, doing nothing, for too long?”
The camera panned to an elephant piñata, and then back to Estakio, who blasted it the face with a pump-action shotgun.
“My name is Estakio Beltran,” he said. “And I approved this message.”
Below is my column today in USA Today on the Obama Administration’s decision to cut off water to legal marijuana growers. Notably, the business concern today for the rollout of legal pot sales in Washington is greater demand than supply. I previously wrote about how a little known board had effectively moved to end the debate over the Redskins name, an example of agencies increasingly intervening in social and political disputes. This move by the Bureau of Reclamation is a prime example of such intervention into political disputes and a troubling precedent for the future.
Below is my column yesterday in the Sunday New York Daily News on the unfolding controversy over President Obama’s unilateral actions to circumvent Congress. The pledge of the President to “go it alone” has already resulted in court losses for the Administration and a growing separation of powers crisis. I testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. I ran another column recently listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority. I happen to believe that the President is right in many of these areas but that does not excuse the means that he is using to achieve these goals.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
I think it was Winston Churchill who reminded us that the “supreme virtue” of government is action. In fact, the greatest of modern British prime ministers, who often marked his staff memoranda in red with the words “Action This Day,” counseled that ” I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Action in recognizing problems. Action in mobilizing support and action in addressing the causes of human suffering and improving the lives of those over whom you have power and authority.
On this side of the Atlantic, the framers understood this seemingly obvious facet of government. Jefferson wrote, “The purpose of government is to maintain a society which secures to every member the inherent and inalienable rights of man, and promotes the safety and happiness of its people.” Protecting individual rights and promoting the security and happiness of those individuals is the essential business of government. Not “either-or” but both.
We have long discussed the erosion of civil liberties in the United States, including the attacks on privacy and other rights by the Obama Administration. It appears that we are not alone in those concerns. A new Gallup poll shows a record drop in the satisfaction of Americans over their freedoms. The massive drop is matched in such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, and Venezuela.
Below is my column today in the Los Angeles Times on a little discussed case that presents a far greater threat to Obamacare than did Hobby Lobby. The Hobby Lobby case is a huge blow for the Administration in terms of one of the most prominent provisions of the Act and recognizing religious rights for corporations. However, it is more of a fender bender for the ACA. Halbig could be a train wreck of a case if it goes against the Administration. We are expecting a ruling any day and the panel is interesting: Judges Harry T. Edwards (a Carter appointee), Thomas B. Griffith (a George W. Bush appointee), and A. Raymond Randolph (a George H.W. Bush appointee). In oral argument, Edwards was reportedly highly supportive of the Administration’s argument while Randolph was very skeptical. That leaves Griffith. It could go 2-1 either way, though in my view the interpretive edge goes to the challengers for the reasons discussed below. This case however is largely a statutory interpretation case, though it has the same separation of powers allegations of executive overreach that we have seen in other recent cases.
The Supreme Court finished its term with its usual dramatic flair with the release of the long-waited decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (which is consolidated with Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius). The two cases represent a classic split in the circuits with the Tenth Circuit agreeing with Hobby Lobby as to the religious claims of the company while the Third Circuit ruled against such claims by Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. The Court ruled that the Hobby Lobby does have religious rights, but limited the decision to closely-held corporations. Where Citizen’s United recognized that corporations have free speech rights like individuals, Hobby Lobby would do the same thing for religious rights. I will be running a column in the Los Angeles Times in the morning not just addressing this ruling but, once again, highlighting what I consider a far more important case that will be decided just a couple blocks away in the D.C. Circuit — Halbig v. Sebelius. I will be discussing the decisions today at CNN starting at 10 am and continuing to the discussion at 1 pm with Wolf Blitzer.
Below is my column in the Sunday Washington Post on separation of powers — authored with United States Senator Ron Johnson (R, Wis.). As the piece states, Johnson and I come from sharply different political perspectives, though the most surprising aspect of this collaboration is that he is a Packers fan and I am a Bears fan. We decided to write a piece together to try to seek a nonpartisan response to the rapidly expanding executive power in our system — and the corresponding decline of legislative power. We have been discussing this worrisome shift within our system and the lack of any collective institutional identity, let alone action, from members. We thought, if we could show the common ground in these concerns, it might encourage other members to reach across the aisle in the interests of their institution.