Friday, July 11, 2014

Supreme Court split five to four to support liberty

Individual liberty won a successful defense in this ongoing ideological and cultural war.

"Justice is the guardian of liberty", US Supreme Court | PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons
“Justice is the guardian of liberty”, US Supreme Court | PHOTO CREDIT: Wiki Commons

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2014 — The US Supreme Court split five to four in two highly anticipated decisions. First, the court split along “party lines” against public sector unions and in favor of individual freedom. In Harris v Quinn, Illinois, et. al., the high court decided that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other public sector unions cannot compel membership. In particular, a public sector union, under a state regulation, forced Harrris to pay union dues as a personal assistant for staying home to care for a disabled family member. As a personal assistant, Harris received a stipend from state Medicaid funds. According to Illinois, that made Harris a state employee and could be compelled to pay union dues, since Illinois refuses to pass right to work legislation.

Perhaps this decision will lead to states striking similar laws. In some states, teachers must join the union if they wish to teach in a public school. In others, the teachers may not be compelled to join the union, but must pay a “fair use” fee to unions under the claim the non-union public employees still benefit from the collective bargaining efforts of the unions.

As Justice Alito’s majority opinion states:
This case presents the question whether the First Amendment permits a State to compel personal care providers to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union that they do not wish to join or support. We hold that it does not, and we therefore reverse the judg­ment of the Court of Appeals.

In another key decision, the court again split along “party lines”, deciding in favor of Hobby Lobby. In Burwell, HHS, et al. v. Hobby Lobby, et. al. the court decided that the government cannot compel a privately owned or closely held corporation to provide services to employees that violate the owners’ religious and moral views. The decision wouldn’t affect may larger so-called public corporations.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A).
Justice Alito penned this majority decision as well:
We must decide in these cases whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488, 42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq., permits the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that three closely held corporations provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners. We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.
In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs. Since RFRA applies in these cases, we must decide whether the challenged HHS regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do.
The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price—as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies. If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.
Under RFRA, a Government action that imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise must serve a compelling government interest, and we assume that the HHS regulations satisfy this requirement. But in order for the HHS mandate to be sustained, it must also constitute the least restrictive means of serving that interest, and the mandate plainly fails that test. There are other ways in which Congress or HHS could equally ensure that every woman has cost-free access to the particular contraceptives at issue here and, indeed, to all FDA-approved contraceptives.
The attempted mandate to force employers to provide contraceptives, abortive drugs and abortion procedures to employees was not a legislated act. It was issued through executive fiat regulation, basically a law created and enacted by the executive branch, headed by the US President, through the executive bureaucracy. It was enacted without the consent of the governed through their lawfully elected legislative representatives. The constitutionality of many of these executive fiats come under judicial review when private citizens challenge their legitimacy. The mandate was not part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.

The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare under Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution which grants congress the power to legislate taxes. Since Obamacare is a tax, HHS can use part of its budget to fund contraceptives, abortive pharmaceuticals and abortions, or subsidies thereof. Those funds may be garnered through taxation under Obamacare related fines, fees, and taxes.

Both of these decisions fall under First Amendment protections. The Harris decision upholds the First Amendment rights of speech and press, holding that a union cannot compel a private citizen to fund its First Amendment activities in collective bargaining or political contributions. The individual’s First Amendment rights preempt those of an organization. The Hobby Lobby case holds that a government bureaucracy cannot force individual business owners to act against their religious views, especially when less invasive and intrusive means and measures are available that won’t infringe upon individual religious convictions or morals.

These decisions stand as minor victories in the ongoing battle against a growing oligarchy comprised of Marxists and collectivists. Individual liberty and the natural individual rights to life, liberty, and property (also known as the pursuit of happiness) won a successful defense in this ongoing ideological and cultural war.