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DC's US District Court is wrong

March 1, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Five judges serving on five courts have ruled on the constitutionality of part or all of the health care reform act of 2010. The most recent, a ruling from Feb. 22, is the worst yet. While previous courts have considered challenges initiated by states built upon an anti-federalist interpretation of the Tenth Amendment, Judge Gladys Kessler, of Washington, D.C.'s U.S. District Court, heard arguments based on individual rights, challenging the clearly unconstitutional consumer mandate.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution - before it does anything else - forbids the U.S. Congress from passing laws "respecting an establishment of religion." It also forbids the federal government from infringing on the rights of the faithful to exercise their religious beliefs. The health care reform act, in well-intentioned deference to this latter liberty, excludes certain Americans - students and practitioners of the Church of Christ, Scientist and certain sects of Amish and Mennonite, among others - from penalties for failing to acquire health insurance. When Kessler upheld the mandate, she rejected a plaintiff's argument that the mandate was "a substantial burden on their Christian faith," the Wall Street Journal reports.

A privilege - an immunity from an obligation the government attempts to place on individuals - granted to some religious sects and denied others effectively establishes the privileged sects as preferential. Kessler's ruling further stripped the plaintiff of one avenue of religious expression - refusal to participate in a transaction that, for whatever reason, the plaintiff finds ethically or spiritually objectionable. In one ruling, Kessler violated the principles of both the establishment clause and free-exercise clause.

 
 

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