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MSM Gives Us the Mushroom Treatment on HHS Mandate

The media are keeping us in the dark on Obamacare’s legal woes and feeding us Hobby Lobby.

By 12.31.12

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In December, there were five federal court decisions relating to Obamacare. Chances are, however, that you will have heard about only one of them. If you do a web search for recent news stories on Hobby Lobby, whose long-shot request for a Supreme Court injunction against the HHS contraception mandate was denied last week, you will get thousands of hits. Virtually every establishment media outlet has posted at least one story on that decision, and most offer several for the edification of their readers.

Now, using precisely the same parameters, do a search for recent stories on Wheaton College. You will get fewer than a dozen results relating to the December 18 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule a lower court dismissal of Wheaton’s lawsuit against the government pursuant to the HHS mandate. You will find a similar paucity of stories about December rulings against the government in suits brought by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, and American Pulverizer, Inc.

The irony here is that Justice Sotomayor’s Hobby Lobby opinion was utterly predictable and, in the long run, probably far less significant than any of the other four decisions. The Wheaton College ruling was not merely a rebuke for the lower court, which naively dismissed the lawsuit last August based on a non-binding government promise “to revise the mandate to accommodate some religious institutions before it goes into effect,” it demolished an argument that the Justice Department has been making in all the anti-mandate lawsuits.

The Obama administration has been arguing, in the many lawsuits it is fighting over the HHS mandate, that the plaintiffs have no standing to sue because they have not yet been injured by the contraception rule, and that HHS apparatchiks are revising it to make it fairer. But federal judges are increasingly reluctant to accept that line of reasoning. As U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan phrased it in his decision involving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, “There is no ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

The most recent victory against HHS and its egregious anti-conscience mandate came last Friday, when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction preventing the government from enforcing the mandate against an Illinois company called Korte & Luitjohan Contractors. And it delivers a potentially deadly blow to the administration’s most pernicious argument — that secular, for‐profit employers are not entitled to the same First Amendment protections enjoyed by strictly religious institutions like churches.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, also represents a company called American Pulverizer. Upon securing a similar injunction for that company’s owners on December 20, ACLJ issued a statement that neatly sums up the effect of the HHS edict: “By January 1, 2013, at the latest, Paul and Henry Griesedieck face a stark and unavoidable choice: abandon their beliefs in order to stay in business, or abandon their businesses in order to stay true to their beliefs.”

The ACLJ isn’t the only public interest law firm fighting the HHS mandate. Another leader is the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Wheaton College in its recent victory. The Becket Fund, a law firm “dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians,” also represents Hobby Lobby. But, despite media insinuations to the contrary, this is no group of fundamentalist lightweights. The Becket Fund was behind the landmark 9-0 Supreme Court victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

And, unlike most of the media, Becket’s general counsel puts the Sotomayor opinion in perspective: “The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit.” So, why have the “news” media made such a big deal of the Hobby Lobby ruling while virtually ignoring the other December decisions? The answer is obvious. That the Obama Justice Department batted one-for-five in December is not to be advertized.

In their ongoing effort to emulate Pravda, the media are doing their best to prop up Obama administration propaganda. Just as they exaggerated anything resembling good news about the economy during the run-up to the recent election, they are now echoing the administration’s talking points on Obamacare and the HHS mandate. The party line on the “Affordable Care Act” is that it has survived all significant legal challenges and full implementation is inevitable. Stories that don’t fit that line don’t get past the editor.

Thus, we get thousands of stories about the Sotomayor opinion with headlines that suggest it constitutes the demise of all serious challenges to the HHS mandate. Meanwhile, we see and hear almost nothing about 80 percent of the rulings handed down by federal courts during the same month on the same issue. But the lawsuits continue to plod forward. Moreover, the HHS mandate is by no means the only provision of Obamacare still being litigated. And the utterly corrupt MSM does not get the final word on any of these lawsuits. Thank God.

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About the Author

David Catron is a health care revenue cycle expert who has spent more than twenty years working for and consulting with hospitals and medical practices. He has an MBA from the University of Georgia and blogs at Health Care BS.