It has been a tough week for President Obama at the Supreme Court! As the somewhat surprising ObamaCare loss to Hobby Lobby was added to the tally on Monday, the Obama administration lost 4 out of 5 big decisions and 2 were rare 9 to 0 decisions.
The Roberts Court
By Marion Algier – Ask Marion
Although not unanimous decisions, after months of judicial rulings reining in big government and police on issues like snooping on Americans without a warrant, restrictions on campaign finance and President Obama’s recess appointment powers, the administration’s losses on ObamaCare rules and compulsory union dues served as a final rebuke by the Supreme Court on their last day of this session.
In the five years that President Obama has been in office, the Supreme Court has rejected the government’s argument with a 9-0 decision 20 times.
During the eight years each in the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the government lost on unanimous votes 23 times and 15 times, respectively, putting the Obama administration on course to to be the biggest loser in recent history in terms of judicial losses. Unfortunately for the American people, Obama won on the big one… the most damaging decision for America: ObamaCare, a decision many people are still baffled by and questioning.
President Obama appointed two of the sitting Supreme Court Judges Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, under an umbrella of considerable scrutiny and dissent by conservatives, the right. So the number of unanimous cases are important in that nobody can say, ‘Well, there are five Republican appointees on the court and only four Democrats.’
“These cases where they haven’t gotten the votes of either of the two Obama nominees means the arguments being presented by the Justice Department to the court are just out of left field,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute.
Monday’s decisions were not unanimous, but congressional Republicans and other critics of President Obama saw the rulings as evidence that the Roberts court is finally acting as something of a final line of defense, a check and balance as they were meant to be, against a president who brags about his use of executive power to bypass Congress and impose his progressive agenda on the American people.
House Speaker John A. Boehner said of Monday’s decision, “It is a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its big government objectives.” Boehner announced last week that he would be suing the president for abuse of executive authority. And although it is unclear how that lawsuit will play out, the administration’s recent track record in high-profile cases has been poor.
Chief Justice John Roberts managed to corral unanimous votes on both privacy and recess appointments — cases that have dealt stinging defeats to the president, having himself been a lawyer and former lecturer on constitutional law.
Christian Science Monitor: WASHINGTON — In a major affirmation of privacy in the digital age, the US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that police must obtain a warrant before searching digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
The 9-to-0 decision marks a Fourth Amendment landmark of profound importance given the ubiquity of cell phones, tablets, and portable computers in public places throughout society.
“Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life,’ " he said.
“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” the chief justice said.
“Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple – get a warrant.” Read More
The Supreme Court delivered a solid blow Thursday to President Obama, ruling that he went too far in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
Fox News: In a unanimous decision, the high court sided with Senate Republicans and limited the president's power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments. It was the first-ever Supreme Court test involving the long-standing practice of presidents naming appointees when the Senate is on break.
In this case, Obama had argued that the Senate was on an extended holiday break when he filled slots at the NLRB in 2012. He argued the brief sessions it held every three days were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling the seats.
The justices rejected that argument, though, declaring the Senate was not actually in a formal recess when Obama acted during that three-day window.
Justice Stephen Breyer said in his majority opinion that a congressional break has to last at least 10 days to be considered a recess under the Constitution. Read More
BusinessWeek: A divided U.S. Supreme Court handed a setback to organized labor by placing new limits on the ability of unions to demand fees from some public-sector workers.
The high court, voting 5-4, invalidated Illinois rules requiring union payments from people who provide in-home care for disabled Medicaid recipients. The majority said those rules violated the workers’ constitutional right to freedom of speech and association because the home health-care workers weren’t true public employees.
“If we accepted Illinois’ argument,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in today’s majority opinion, “we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” Read More
Ask Marion: Monday’s decision was very narrow and some pro-life and religious groups question whether it was a win in the long run in their battles. It certainly was in the short run!! You be the judge…
Attorneys Who Defended Hobby Lobby Celebrating
American Thinker: Hobby Lobby 1, Obamacare 0
The Supreme Court upheld the religious freedom rights of Hobby Lobby, the closely-held corporation owned by believing Christians who objected to being required to supply the abortion pill to their employees.
Steve Ertelt of Life News reports:
…the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.
Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”
“HHS’s contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion,” the decision reads, adding that the “decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion saying that government itself could provide the coverage for contraception and the abortion-causing drugs if a company declines to do so.
The Hobby Lobby decision only applies to companies. Non-profit groups like Priests for Life and Little Sisters are still waiting for a ruling about their right to opt out of the mandate.
Note that this ruling only applies to closely-held corporations, but does not rule out applying the same religious freedom reasoning to publicly-held firms and nonprofits.
Ed Lasky points out:
The fact that both these decisions [Hobby Lobby and the forced union dues case] were 5-4 points out the danger of Obama picking the next SC Justice with Reid in control of the Senate. If the opportunity present itself, he will abolish the filibuster for SC nominees, too.
Memo.com: The Supreme Court Gets It Right
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has stepped up to defend Americans’ most basic freedoms from the full-frontal assault by the rampaging band of leftists running America. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, a Christian business that objected on religious ground to Obamacare’s mandate that they must cover certain contraceptives.
Hobby Lobby is among about 50 businesses that have sued over covering contraceptives. Some, like Hobby Lobby, are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude abortifacients.
Justice Samuel Alito said the decision is limited to contraceptives. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs,” he said. He suggested two ways the administration could deal with the birth control issue. The government could simply pay for pregnancy prevention, he said. Or it could provide the same kind of accommodation it has made available to religious-oriented, not-for-profit corporations.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was part of the majority, also wrote separately to say the administration can solve its problem easily. “The accommodation works by requiring insurance companies to cover, without cost sharing, contraception coverage for female employees who wish it,” Kennedy said. He said that arrangement “does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs.” Everyone’s rights respected and problem solved. Easy peasy.
Of course, Obamacare was never about health care or health insurance. It was only and always about government power and control. Over you. That’s what the contraceptive mandate was all about: social engineering, abortion made even easier to get, and with the government holding the strings of control over all of it.
Thank goodness the Supremes ruled on the side of religious liberty. It’s about time. But that 5-4 split is too close for comfort. As we head into 2016, don’t forget that the Supreme Court—like all of our courts—hangs by a thread, and with it, our most basic freedoms.
Huffington Post: If Hobby Lobby Wins, Pro-life Christians Lose
We now know with certainty that the Supreme Court will announce its Hobby Lobby decision on Monday. This weekend, the craft and home décor store, along with numerous evangelical institutions that have filed briefs in its support -including my former employer the National Association of Evangelicals–are hoping and praying God will favor them with a whole new expansion of religious freedom and the protection of human life. I’m praying for the opposite.
Along with nearly 50 other for-profit corporations, Hobby Lobby is demanding the same religious freedoms and protections that each of us has. Hobby Lobby was not endowed by its Creator with certain unalienable rights. It does not have a soul. It cannot have faith. Yet its owners (and their lawyers) insist that it should not have to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds. The Obama Administration reasonably granted an opt-out to houses of worship and other religious nonprofits. Hobby Lobby wants similar treatment.
Evangelical intervention on behalf of the multi-billion dollar corporation, which donates generously to their causes, is wrong for many reasons but here are two major ones: If you are pro-religious liberty and pro-life and family, you can’t support allowing a for-profit corporation to use religion to deny contraceptive coverage.
First, supporters of Hobby Lobby think they are helping the Christian faith but are actually harming it. In fact, a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby weakens religious freedom.
When anyone can use religion to claim an exemption on anything, religion loses meaning. Rather than a personal belief embedded in our souls, faith would become a set of arbitrary rules any corporation could choose from to skirt the law.
Is this what evangelicalism needs? I spent nearly three decades in governmental relations at the National Association of Evangelicals defending the free-exercise of religion and the right to life, among many other traditional values. Coming to the aid of for-profit corporations who want to ride on the backs of religion is not one of these honored principles.
Indeed, it is a kind of corporatism invading the body of Christ — concern not for the “least of these” but the richest of those among us. Is this what Christ would do?
When corporations are allowed the same exemptions that have always been reserved just for churches–whether on health benefits, hiring, or land use–those special protections become less clear and more open for interpretation.
If a for-profit corporation is eligible for legal exemptions on grounds of religious freedom, it puts government in charge of deciding what is or isn’t religion. You can just imagine the lawyers who will find work forever litigating these claims. I know, from experience, that their concern for what should be “legal” is not the same as what is “spiritual” or truly serves the interests of the Church.
What if a corporation owned by Jehovah Witnesses refuses to cover blood transfusions? If Christian corporations are allowed to use faith to refuse contraception coverage to women who work for them, what’s to stop a Christian Scientist business from refusing to cover any health benefits?
Second, the supporters of Hobby Lobby think they are being “pro-life.” They are wrong. A massive study conducted in 2012 showed that contraception coverage without a co-pay could dramatically reduce the abortion rate.
That study, conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine, of 10,000 women at-risk for unintended pregnancy found that when given their choice of birth control methods, counseled about their effectiveness, risks, and benefits, with all methods provided at no cost, about 75 percent of women in the study chose the most effective methods: IUDs or implants. Most importantly, as a result, annual abortion rates among study participants dropped up to 80 percent below the national abortion rate.
Well, you might ask, based upon some of the charges being made, aren’t the contraceptive methods being funded through the Affordable Care Act, abortifacients? Not if you believe medical science.
In the words of Jeffrey F. Peipert, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine, “these contraceptive methods work by preventing pregnancy (fertilization) from occurring in the first place. For instance, the intrauterine device works primarily by preventing fertilization. Plan B (or the progestin-containing, morning-after pill), along with Ella (ulipristal acetate), delay the release of a woman’s egg from her ovary. The egg does not get fertilized, which means the woman does not become pregnant.”
In sum, Evangelicals supporting Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court are not actually being pro-religious freedom or pro-life. If they win at the Supreme Court, these causes will be damaged in the long run.
Although this decision in favor of Hobby Lobby is generally seen as a victory by most on the right, and a win for freedom in general, it has opened the door for a lot of whining by the left, who will certainly take their misinformation and use it as a weapon in the upcoming 2014 Elections.
The only win for the White House and the EPA this Supreme Court Session was on greenhouse gas:
The outcome is likely to be welcomed by environmentalists because it confirms the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to restrict greenhouse gases.
The justices handed down two separate rulings in a dispute over permits for new or modified power plants and factories.
In a 7-2 vote, the justices agreed the Environmental Protection Agency could force major polluters to use new and better technology to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide.
“These are major polluting facilities, such as factories and coal-fired power plants,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, and they are already subject to EPA restrictions. Now, those restrictions can include limits on greenhouse gases, he said.
The only disappointment faced by the regulatory State was that a separate 5-4 decision kept it from extending this authority to “millions of other facilities,” as the L.A. Times puts it, although I think that could be more properly rendered as “virtually all other facilities.” The greenhouse-gas fantasy retains its grip on power plants, but at least they can’t make nearly every construction project pull “greenhouse gas permits,” which is where all of this was headed. Today’s ruling also won’t do anything to stop the broader War on Energy carried out by the Obama Administration. Considering what they won at the Supreme Court, their losses are trivial. Read More
REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA): Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It's about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president's unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he's not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He's becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch.
This Newtonian orbit that the three branches exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration. There is two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress. One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction. (House hearing, December 3, 2013).
UPDATE: The Kelly File, 2/12/2014: Turley on Expansion of Presidential Powers: "We Have Become a Nation of Enablers"
As for me… All in all, I’d say it was a great week!! It is just too bad we can’t get decisions on the Constitutionality of important matters a little bit quicker! It would save us a whole of hurt… money and time!!