Steve Kurlander: Sotomayor drops ball in NYC, but not in ACA ruling

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor came home Tuesday night to New York City to ceremonially push the button to drop the crystalline orb and lead more than a million revelers in Times Square in celebrating the New Year. 

It was her second defining moment of the day and the beginning of 2014.

Soon before her appearance in Times Square, Sotomayor issued an order that temporarily halted one of the most controversial mandates of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) from taking effect on Jan. 1. The requirement would have forced some religious affiliated employers opposed to birth control to provide their employees health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage.

Her order is another indication of just how flawed the ACA is. The implementation of Obamacare, with its tremendous impact on the cost and delivery of medical care to all Americans, now faces major legal objections and procedural problems. These challenges show the need for major legislative reform and judicial restraint in the near future.

Sotomayor’s ruling stemmed from an emergency appeal from lawyers of the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, a Catholic charitable agency, who had requested and were denied by the Obama Administration an exemption from providing such contraceptive coverage. The Little Sisters’ request was similar to exemptions already granted to churches and other religious groups.

Lawyers for the Little Sisters argued that their client faced “draconian fines” of “$100 a day per affected beneficiary” and stated that if they drop their healthcare coverage, “they will be subject to an annual fine of $2,000 per full-time employee after the first 30 employees, and/or face ruinous practical consequences due to their inability to offer a crucial health care benefit to employees.”

The Justice Department has until Friday to respond to the Little Sisters’ request.

The requirement to provide free contraceptive coverage has already faced opposition from religious groups and employers that lead the Obama Administration to compromise and allow them to opt out from such coverage.  But the White House refused to extend the exemption to secular businesses whose owners have religious objections to contraception, such as the craft chain Hobby Lobby.

The Little Sisters controversy highlights the major weakness of Obamacare as a socio-economic means to dictate leftist and feminist behavior, mores, and practices for citizens and businesses to follow without choice.

This mindset to readjust the birth control customs of our county was highlighted on Dec. 31 by Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who couched the ACA in empowering sexist terms:

With the implementation of the ACA “being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition,” Sebelius said.

Well, Sotomayor also ensured that on Jan. 1, albeit temporarily, that a religious employer was not going to have to provide nonessential medical coverage that blatantly runs against traditional religious beliefs.

And that ruling spells the true beginning of the end of the ACA as it exists in present form.

The forced payment for contraceptives that are readily and cheaply available on the open market is just one of many inherent weaknesses that promise to bring down Obamacare.

Obamacare still fails to control high medical costs arising from defensive medicine and malpractice litigation.  There’s also the inherent unfairness and political nature of exemptions already granted to major employers and unions (and even the churches too), and the failure to break down monopolistic barriers toward healthcare insurance.

The question now is whether Sotomayor and her fellow justices, and the GOP and Congress too, will drop the ball in limiting the big government aspects of Obamacare and focusing instead on reforming healthcare to improve coverage, reduce cost, and making us a healthier nation.

Guest Author


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