On Monday, United States District Court Judge Brian Cogan ruled that the Affordable Care Act cannot force religious nonprofit organizations to pay for birth control for their employees. However, the judge didn’t stop there.
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Cogan went on to completely blast Obamacare’s contraception mandate and the President’s unconstitutional way of enforcing it with these three very compelling points:
#1 – First, he dismissed the Obama administration’s argument that the contraception mandate must be uniformly enforced for it to work, reminding them of all of the exceptions they’ve made for special interests such as unions and members of Congress:
Tens of millions of people are exempt from the Mandate, under exemptions for grandfathered health plans, small businesses, and “religious employers” like the Diocesan plaintiffs here. Millions of women thus will not receive contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing through the Mandate. Having granted so many exemptions already, the Government cannot show a compelling interest in denying one to these plaintiffs.
#2 – Second, he rejected the claim that nonprofits should just agree to the law because they won’t have to follow it anyway:
Here, the Government implicitly acknowledges that applying the Mandate to plaintiffs may in fact do nothing at all to expand contraceptive coverage, because plaintiffs’ TPAs aren’t actually required to do anything after receiving the self-certification. In other words, the Mandate forces plaintiffs to fill out a form which, though it violates their religious beliefs, may ultimately serve no purpose whatsoever. A law that is totally ineffective cannot serve a compelling interest.
#3 – Finally – and this is the best one – he called out Obama for overreaching his executive powers to enact parts of the law that Congress didn’t agree to:
The Government first argues that the alternatives above are infeasible because the defendants lack statutory authority to enact some of them. This argument makes no sense; in any challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law, the question is whether the federal government could adopt a less restrictive means, not any particular branch within it. It would set a dangerous precedent to hold that if the Executive Branch cannot act unilaterally, then there is no alternative solution. If defendants lack the required statutory authority, Congress may pass appropriate legislation.
Judge Cogan is one of the few federal judges to call out Obama for his administration’s increasingly widening interpretation of what he can do without congressional approval. While this ruling is certainly a win for religious liberty, it’s an even bigger victory for limited government.