No to Obamacare – Opposition in Oklahoma keeps growing
Legislators, legal officials, businessmen and educators are uniting in an effort to keep Obamacare from imposing unconstitutional mandates in Oklahoma.
A bill authored by State Rep. Mike Ritze which focused on nullifying Obamacare passed out of the House Public Health committee.
House Bill 1021 passed out of the committee by a 7-3 vote. It now awaits consideration in the House Calendar Committee.
Ritze, a board-certified family practice physician and surgeon – the author of the legislation – filed HB 1021 to nullify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, in Oklahoma. HB1021 will protect businesses such as Hobby Lobby and OK Citizens from the detrimental effects of Obamacare.
Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said the measure protects Oklahomans against an unconstitutional federal overreach in power and control over their daily lives.
“There is no provision in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution where the states delegated to Congress the authority to make a citizen purchase health care or pay a fine,” Ritze said. “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an example of federal overreach and my legislation will authorize the state via the will of the people to ignore it and ban the enforcement of it.”
Proponents of Obamacare argue that Article VI of the Constitution makes the legislation the “supreme law of the land.” Ritze strongly disagrees with that belief.
“They fail to understand how the country is supposed to operate,” Ritze said. “As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 33: ‘It expressly confines this supremacy to laws made pursuant to the Constitution.’ Alexander Hamilton got it right. Congress and the Supreme Court got it wrong.
“When the federal government exceeds its delegated authority, as it has done with the passage of Obamacare, it is the duty of every state representative to defend the unalienable rights of the people of the great State of Oklahoma. I and others in the House and Senate intend to do just that with this legislation.”
Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is supporting the amendment.
“I’m supporting this amendment because government is supposed to protect and expand our freedoms not attack and diminish them,” Piper said in a message to supporters. “I support this Amendment because our president and congress have sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution – not ignore and debase it.
“I support this amendment because a woman’s right to buy or not buy a product should be respected not rejected, a girl’s life is more important than an adults choice, and because sexual behavior has always – always – been a moral discussion and moral discussions always stem from religious doctrine and religious dictates.
“I support this amendment because my religion – your religion – cannot be compartmentalized. It can’t be segregated into false dichotomies. I am an integrationist not a segregationist and as a Christian, I believe in integrating head and heart, fact and faith, belief and behavior, public life and private life. Whether you are Mormon, Muslim, Mennonite or Methodist you surely agree that your religion informs your morality and your morality informs your behavior and your behavior informs who you are – sexual and otherwise.
“I support this amendment because I’m tired. Tired of the disrespect for conservation: the conservation of time tested truths. Tired of the disrespect of women: women who have the right buy or not buy what they want. Tired of the sacrifice of girls: girls whose right to live surely supersedes anyone else’s right to libertine licentiousness. I’m tired of my faith, my values and my virtues – my religion – being lampooned and subjugated to definitions and restrictions that the Bill of Rights says cannot happen.”
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak and State Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell, announced the passage of House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1020 through committee, the first step in the legislative process to becoming a state question. The joint resolution proposes to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to prevent any employer from being forced to offer health insurance that violates their religious convictions.
“In a continued effort to uphold religious freedom in our state and as an unwavering opponent of the Affordable Care Act and the health insurance requirements it would enforce, this is another step in the right direction to stand up to the federal government and fight for religious liberty,” said Doak.
The proposal, authored by Blackwell, would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to add a new Section 38 to Article II. The amendment would prohibit any person from being forced to purchase insurance that violates their religious convictions or any employer from being forced to offer insurance that violates their religious convictions. HJR 1020 is receiving support from businesses and organizations statewide.
“I’m authoring this resolution because I am an ardent supporter of religious freedom and the Affordable Health Care Act is in direct violation of that freedom,” Rep. Blackwell said. “Passing this state question is one of the best things Oklahoma can do to support our Constitution’s 1st Amendment rights.”
A joint resolution requires approval by both the House and the Senate after passing committee before being adopted as a state question on the election ballot.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby in the Oklahoma company’s religious liberty challenge to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., headquartered in Oklahoma City, is challenging the federal government’s requirement that employers offer health insurance coverage for services such as abortion inducing drugs that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The state’s amicus brief questions the district court’s earlier ruling in the case and defends the free exercise rights of the company’s owners, the Green Family.
“The actions of the (federal government) substantially burden the undisputed, sincere and deeply held religious faith of these citizens of Oklahoma who are otherwise fully protected by the Constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma, and forcibly require them to personally undertake actions that are contrary to the undisputed, sincere, and deeply held religious faith of these citizens,” the court filing states.
Oklahoma also is among seven states involved in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Nebraska that challenges the constitutionality of the federal government’s mandate, claiming the requirement would be an unprecedented invasion of First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.
“Any regulation that requires an employer to violate their lawful religious beliefs and practices goes directly against the ideals that our Founding Fathers set in place to protect Americans from an overbearing and intrusive government,” Pruitt said. “It conflicts with the most basic elements of freedom provided to all Americans to practice their lawful religion wherever, whenever and however they choose. For that reason, we have filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby’s claim and ask the Court to find the regulation unconstitutional.”
Nine U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives, along with the Pruitt and 11 other key groups, filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the Becket Fund’s challenge to the HHS mandate on behalf of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
“While any brief by sitting members of Congress is significant, this one comes from members who originally supported the federal civil rights law – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 – which is at the heart of the mandate challenges,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
“The brief leaves no doubt that Congress intended to protect the religious freedom of those like Hobby Lobby and its founder, David Green, against federal attempts to force them to insure abortion-inducing drugs.”
The case is currently before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing could take place as early as this spring.
It is signed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Daniel R. Coats, Thad Cochran, Mike Crapo, Charles Grassley, James M. Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby and Congressmen Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf.
According to a brief of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life and National Association of Pro Life Nurses:
“‘[E]mergency contraception’” [such as the "morning after" and "week after" pill] has the potential to terminate the lives of unborn children. Being forced to pay for the termination of a human life is just as objectionable as being forced to participate in the termination of the human life.”
A brief of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Association of Christian Schools International, National Association of Evangelicals, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, The C12 Group and Christian Legal Society as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellants and Reversal states:
“The notion that a federal court may don ecclesiastical robes and purport to tell citizens that they do not correctly perceive the tenets of their faith is entirely foreign to American legal practice and experience.”