United States District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has dismissed Wheaton College’s lawsuit requesting relief from the Health and Human Services mandate. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires the college to provide insurance coverage for contraception, or pay fines.
Wheaton College filed its suit in July, anticipating it would face fines for not complying with the mandate beginning January 1, 2013.
Under the Department of Health and Human Services “safe harbor” provision, the government waits one year before beginning to fine qualifying non-profits for refusing to cover contraception, according to the college’s website.
According to the ruling, “Wheaton argues that it cannot offer health plans that cover emergency contraceptives, namely Plan B… and Ella… Consistent with its religious beliefs.
According to a statement on the college’s website, “On August 15, Wheaton won important victory when, as a direct result of the College’s emergency motion, the government re-wrote the ‘temporary enforcement safe harbor’ guidelines to give Wheaton an additional year before heavy fines begin to accrue.
“Because the government has now agreed not to enforce the mandate against Wheaton in 2013, and because the government has pledged to revise the mandate in 2013, federal district court judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ruled that Wheaton’s lawsuit was premature.”
The ruling states that Wheaton College’s arguments, “do not set its case apart from the mine run of situations in which an enterprise confronts …projected application of regulatory or fiscal legislation.”
In other words, let’s kick the can down the road, because there is an election in November. And the government has promised to revise the HHS mandate in 2013, and to not start collecting “heavy” fines until after 2013, and we are safe to disregard any questions about Constitutionality based on these two very slim reeds.
This is not generally how we do things here in the United States of America. But it seems there is a lot of that going around these days.
But according to the words above in her opinion, United States District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle is telling us, in effect, that government bureaucrats are free to write any damn law they choose without regard to whether or not it defies the Constitution. Because, hey, “heavy fines” won’t accrue for another year yet! What’s the hurry? Take a chill pill.
Call me kooky, but this judge seems either hopelessly naive or in the employ of the Obama White House. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that with Constitutional questions, you don’t kick the can down the road because the timing doesn’t meet the government’s needs. The question is not going to go away. How is waiting to resolve it preferred to solving it now? This is current law, and “enterprises” are forced to deal with it, as will all other forms of new regulation that are choking growth.
Politically-appointed bureaucrats in Washington picked this fight for purely political reasons, i.e. to buy votes, and it is more than a bit daft to presume that in that context, political appointees in a bureaucracy like HHS are suddenly going to see the light and resolve a major Constitutional issue in a way that respects the First Amendment. Not likely. No, this is probably going to the Supreme Court at some point, as well it should. Let’s get this party started. If our Constitution is being shredded before our eyes, let’s acknowledge it, right now, right here.
And if you want religious influence out of politics, and you like to quote “separation of church and state” all the time and pretend the phrase is in the First Amendment rather than a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote, and you rail on and on about the danger of Christianity, yet you refuse to acknowledge all the good it does in our nation and the world, and you wear your atheism on your sleeve proudly, then do the rest of us this one favor: don’t turn a blind eye to keeping political influence out of religion, too. Freedom of religion is there to protect all of us by placing limits on what Congress can and cannot do: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. That’s there to protect all of us, believers and non-believers alike.