As the Supreme Court starts its three-day marathon Monday to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the health care law known as "Obamacare," let's be clear about the justices' challenge, and ours.
The challenge before the court, a challenge it has often not lived up to, is to keep perspective that applying our constitution is not about splitting hairs about the meaning of words in order to further a personal agenda. It's about applying, in good faith, the principles that define this country and assuring that our government operates in a fashion consistent with those principles.
There is no technical substitute for common sense. And clever people can always use words to overpower less clever people. Cleverness should serve principle, not vice versa.
Let's recall the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857, when the Supreme Court decisively ruled 7-2 that slaves in America were property no different than wagons or cattle and could never be treated, under the U.S. Constitution, as citizens.
This in a nation founded under the principle that it is self-evident "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
We confront today new, energetic efforts to undermine the principles upon which this nation stands.
Demonstrations are taking place nationwide to drive home to the American people, and one hopes to the nine Supreme Court justices, that Obamacare -- passed in 2010 through procedural gymnastics and without a single Republican vote -- blatantly violates our core principles of human liberty.
One wave of protest in which I am taking part, giving a keynote address in Washington, D.C., focuses on the violation of religious liberty by applying the employer mandate to provide "free" contraceptives, sterilization and abortion pills as part of health insurance.
Specifically, how can anyone who cares about fidelity to the principles of our Declaration of Independence fathom an America in which government forces religious institutions to violate their religious convictions or pay a fine?
An America in which Catholic organizations, or any religious organizations, are forced to finance the very behavior prohibited by their religion is a different America than originally founded and that the Constitution was written to preserve and secure.
No clear, honest reasoning can conclude that among the rights with which we are endowed by our Creator is a right to use government to force third parties to pay for the contraceptives of others -- particularly if this violates a third party's religious convictions.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are comfortable taking license to violate individual freedom and conscience if they think it will cut health care costs. And in their logic, contraceptives are cheaper than babies.
I'm reminded of Pharoah's mandate to control the Israelites, ordering that midwives kill all newly born males.
Consider the following recent posting by Gallup:
"Research conducted by Gallup, as well as the research of others in recent years, confirms that religiousness -- usually defined by frequent religious service attendance and importance of religion in one's daily life -- positively correlates with indicators of emotional and physical well-being. People in the U.S. who are the most religious have less worry, less anger and less stress, and are happier. They are less likely to have been diagnosed as depressed, evaluate their life better, eat healthier, smoke less, and report better physical health. These relationships hold up even after controlling for demographic and geographic variables."
How about government mandating lower insurance premiums for those who attend church weekly?
This country is about freedom. When we lose it, we lose our country. This is what the Supreme Court should be thinking about when it hears the arguments on Obamacare.
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