As reported and described here and here, the Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the Individual Mandate, the provision under Obamacare requiring millions of Americans to purchase and indefinitely maintain health insurance or face annual penalties.
Much commentary is sure to follow regarding the many consequences and implications of today’s decision, but one thing needs to be made abundantly clear: though the challenges to the Individual Mandate are now over, the legal challenges to the HHS Mandate are not. The constitutionality of the HHS Mandate -- the federal regulation requiring employers with more than 50 employees to include abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization in their health insurance plans -- was not at issue in today’s decision and so was not briefed or argued, much less decided.
Consequently, the numerous lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, including the ACLJ case on behalf of a Catholic business owner in St. Louis, Missouri, will now move forward with even greater strength and resolve. These cases, pending in federal courts across the country, will be decided at the district court level, appealed to the circuit courts of appeal, and then eventually submitted to the Supreme Court for final review.
The fight for freedom of conscience is one that cannot be abandoned. The Founding Fathers committed their lives and honor to the preservation of religious freedom and we should be willing to do the same. In an eloquent letter to the United Baptists in Virginia in 1789, George Washington wrote that if the government ever acted to render individual conscience “insecure” he would fight be the first to fight against it:
If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the general Government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.
The fight against the Individual Mandate is finished, but the fight against the HHS Mandate is well underway. The ACLJ will continue to move forward on this front to ensure that we ultimately prevail -- for conscience, the Constitution, and our country.