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Supreme Court to Rule on New Interpretation of First Amendment

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Obamacare was rammed through congress to become law in 2010, exactly four years ago.

Republicans have been trying to thwart it ever since, for a number of reasons. First, they were completely excluded from crafting the law. Second, it is full of holes that have been laying waste to the economy, employment, and worst of all, the helth of those who were already insured and relatively happy with their insurance.

Many lawsuits have been started, but none have yet made it to the Suprement Court - until now.

The Supreme Court has two important cases on its docket for next Tuesday. These could have major repercussions on the Affordable Care Act. The cases are related to the First Amendment.

An argument in the appeals court centered on the placement of a semicolon, and that pushed it to the Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday.

Here is what the Circuit Court Judge Robert Cowan said in his appeals court decision:

"Appellants also argue that Citizens United is applicable to the Free Exercise of religion Clause because the authors of the First Amendment only separated the Free Exercise Clause and the Free Speech Clause by a semi-colon, thus showing the continuation of intent between the two. We are not persuaded that the use of a semi-colon means that each clause of the First Amendment must be interpreted jointly."

The interpretation of the semi-colon argument holds that the free exercise of religion and free exercise of speech are linked. The Citizens United case provided corporations the same free speech rights as people. Thus, corporations should have the same free religious exercise rights as people, too.

That means they could opt out of Obamacare altogether, which is what they want to do. Judge Cowen was not convinced by the argument, so be booted it over to the Supreme Court.

There are two separate cases. One questions the government's ability to compel for-profit companies with religious convictions to pay for birth-control coverage, something that goes against their beliefs. In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the national hobby and crafts chain store asked the Court to take on the birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies.

Ironically, the Obama administration also asked the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case. They may regret that decision.

The issue in this case is whether the company is protected under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless that burden satisfies strict scrutiny. The company, Hobby Lobby, is a family-owned company, and they say their religious rights are being violated by Obamacare.

In Hobby Lobby's corner, lawyer Paul Clement is arguing for the company, while in the other corner Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will be his opposition. Both contenders in the stoush are veterans of other related Obamacare cases.

It is possible the Supreme Court could set a precedent that would allow some companies to opt out of the employer mandate, but we are told the court will not rule on the constitutionality of the law.

Given the many problems that have been negatively impacting jobs and the economy, the Obama administration has delayed the employer mandate by a year or two, depending on the size of the company. Conveniently, until after upcoming elections so it has a better chance of not destroying democrat voting numbers.

It is said the Hobby Lobby decision could even redefine the First Amendment.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. His BS in journalism from University of Oregon with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing. Read more stories by Dwight L. Schwab Jr. If you enjoyed this column, may I suggest you press the SUBSCRIBE button? It's FREE. Thank you for your patronage. You can also send comments to: dwight.schwab@gmail.com.

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