An Important Conversation

To say it’s been rather crazy around here lately would be an understatement. The US Supreme Court oral arguments on Obamacare have taken center stage. All this week I provided late-minute radio commentary on what’’s been happening at the Court. It aired on over 1,060 radio outlets and reached an estimated 35-million people.

I’’m sure you’’d appreciate a report on how things went because Obamacare will greatly impact your life. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office announced Obamacare will cost twice the estimate—no surprise there. As a result, healthcare rationing isn’’t debated. It’s expected.

Within Obamacare is a $12 annual fee for abortion. It’s like you and all your fellow Americans take this money down to the local Planned Parenthood or other abortion mill, place it in the blood-stained hands of the abortionist and said, “”Here’s my donation to the abortion industry.””

I agree with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who said it’s not a big step for Mr. Obama to say that due to limited funding for healthcare, the government will now only pay for one or two deliveries of babies per household—but unlimited abortions.

With these ominous facts in mind, I read through the more than 350-page transcript of the oral arguments.

Monday started the week off with an hour-and-a-half of oral arguments regarding the Anti-Injunction Act as it relates to Obamacare. The healthcare mandate forces every American to purchase health insurance, and if they don’t, they’ll be fined by the government. If the Court sees this fine as a tax, the Anti-Injunction Act wouldn’’t permit a challenge to Obamacare until someone was actually fined. This wouldn’’t happen until 2015. Fortunately, it doesn’’t look like the justices were amenable to seeing this as a tax, so we expect the challenge to move forward.

Tuesday—day two of oral arguments—involved two hours of discussion on the mandate itself. This is at the core of Obamacare. If the government isn’’t allowed to force us to participate in Mr. Obama’s scheme, it takes the heart out of the healthcare bill.

This was an encouraging day.

Key to a decision on the mandate is Justice Kennedy, —often called the swing vote. If I had been a supporter of Obamacare, Kennedy’s remarks would have given me a severe case of heartburn. It appears the Court is pretty evenly split for and against the mandate, which makes Justice Kennedy even more important.

He used words like “unprecedented” to describe the mandate. At one point, Justice Kennedy said to the Solicitor General advocating Obamacare, “”You are changing the relation of the individual to the government in this . . . do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authorization under the Constitution?”” Chief Justice Roberts seemed concerned with giving the government unbridled power. Justice Alito compared forcing people to purchase health insurance with mandating the purchase of burial services. “Eventually you’’re going to die, and somebody is going to have to pay for it, and if you don’’t have burial insurance . . . you’’re going to shift the cost to somebody else.”

Like I said—–heartburn. I’’m prayerfully optimistic this mandate may not survive.

Day three of oral arguments centered on severability. If the mandate forcing Americans to buy health insurance is ruled unconstitutional, what, if any, of Obamacare should remain intact? The primary concerns are “guaranteed-issue” and the “community rating provision.” These would guarantee that people with medical histories would have healthcare coverage and at a price they could afford. If the mandate goes down, these two key elements would be unworkable.

The Obama administration actually argued for jettisoning these elements if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional. Primarily because—if they were left in—insurance premiums would skyrocket and the President would have a huge political liability on his hands right before the election.

On the severability issue, it appears Justices Scalia and Thomas would rule the rest of Obamacare unconstitutional if the mandate was. The Court’s reliable liberal votes: Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer, advocated for keeping what they could under the circumstances. Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts both questioned keeping the remainder of the bill, but seemed more in the middle.

Finally, the Court addressed the issue of greatly expanding Medicaid to accommodate Obamacare. It showed just how aggressively the law imposes itself on Americans. Under the plan, Medicaid is hugely expanded to accommodate expenditures. States are offered enormous amounts of money to implement Obamacare. But if they refuse, they’ll not only be denied these additional Medicaid funds, they’ll also be stripped of all other Medicaid funds.

Representing twenty-six states, Paul Clement rightly argued that this is coercion by the government. Response by the justices was mixed on this issue.

Now that the Court’’s deliberations on Obamacare are over, I’’m prayerfully optimistic the mandate won’’t stand, including parts of the law closely tied with the mandate. I wouldn’’t go so far as to predict that the Court will overturn all of Obamacare, but that is my prayer. I’’m hopeful the heart of the law will be taken out and Americans will be better protected.

It’s critical that we all keep the Justices in our prayers as they finalize their opinion because you know that Satan’’s always in the details.

Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 25 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

Life Issues Institute welcomes comments relevant to columns that are civil, concise, and respectful of other contributors. We do not publish comments with links to other websites or other online material.