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Conflicting Rulings on Obamacare

When Nancy Pelosi announced that the Obamacare bill would have to be passed in order to see what was in it, the American people knew (or should have known) that this was not a piece of legislation which had been fully considered. Now that it is law, this is becoming increasingly evident on at least one front; the response to litigation against it. A look at decisions made regarding lawsuits filed against Obamacare show that the judicial system was not prepared for such arguments. Take, for example, the cases of Hobby Lobby and Domino’s Farms. These are very similar cases, but have received contradictory rulings, leaving Americans, especially business owners, wondering exactly how prepared our government was for this legislation. 

In the case of Hobby Lobby, the Christian owners are unable to provide emergency contraceptives such as Plan B without violating their religious beliefs. While the case is pending, they asked to be exempt from this Obamacare requirement, a request which was denied. They now face crippling fines for non compliance as they wait for their case to be resolved. Domino’s Farms, owned by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, sued for an exemption from providing any birth control as it violates his Catholic faith. In his original suit, birth control was described as “Gravely immoral practices.” Monaghan was granted an emergency order allowing him an exemption while his case his being considered. With these differing rulings on religious liberty versus Obamacare, an already disorganized situation becomes decidedly chaotic.

Aside from the scope of contraception in question, these cases are very similar. One difference, however, is in the size of the companies. Domino’s Farms is a small company with 45 full-time employees, and could be penalized approximately $200,000 per year if it is ruled that they must comply with Obamacare but do not do so. Hobby Lobby, on the other hand, employs more than 13,000 workers in 500 stores over 41 states. At $1.3 million a day, the company could be fined hundreds of millions of dollars a year for non compliance. Are the American people to assume that smaller companies will not have to comply, but larger ones will? Is there a financial motive behind these decisions?

These rulings were made in different states (Oklahoma and Michigan, respectively), giving them the appearance of state issues rather than federal. While it could reasonably be argued that healthcare is a state issue, religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution. This protects it for every American citizen in perpetuity. If the Constitution is being respected and applied equally, states should not be able to rule otherwise. 

When some companies are allowed to comply with their religious beliefs pending litigation and some are not, what are American citizens to believe? Are we not guaranteed equal justice under the law? The future of religious liberty in America is at stake, and the judiciary seems to have been caught completely unprepared. With more questions than answers, I would like to refer you to the Bill of Rights. If you’re in a hurry, just read the First Amendment. It will tell you everything you need to know. 

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