In yet another slight to rule of law, the Obama Administration has asked a federal court to put a press conference pronouncement above official regulation.
Last week, the Department of Justice filed a legal response to one of numerous lawsuits currently challenging the constitutionality of the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. The Administration submitted its response to the legal complaint of Belmont Abbey College, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, to the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.
In what the Becket Fund is calling a “remarkable” stance, the Obama Administration argues that the court should dismiss Belmont Abbey’s lawsuit because the President promised in a February 10 press conference to change the anti-conscience mandate at some undetermined future date.
The Administration’s legal response largely ignores the fact that the final version of the rule, filed by the Administration just hours after the press conference, was not changed; rather, it enshrined the original offensive mandate in law.
The Obama Administration is not petitioning the court to consider the merits of the final regulation as published. Rather, the Justice Department is asking the court to make a legal determination based on promises made at a press conference.
“Apparently, the administration has decided that the mandate, as written and finalized, is constitutionally indefensible,” said Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the Becket Fund. “Its only hope is to ask the court to look the other way based on an empty promise to possibly change the rules in the future.
“Since when does ‘Trust me, I’m from the government’ suspend the laws of the land?” Smith continued.
The Obama Administration’s weak argument should surprise no one. While Obamacare was still being debated, the American people were told that Congress would have to pass the bill in order to find out what was in the legislation. Now, the Administration is asking a federal court to wait until a future rule-making to determine whether the mandate, as already finalized, violates the Constitution.
The lack of concern for whether the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate meets constitutional muster appears to have permeated the process from the beginning.
In a Senate hearing last week, Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius if she had consulted with the Department of Justice prior to issuing the religious-liberty violating mandate. She responded, “I did not. No Sir.”
Obamacare’s overreach, including the anti-conscience mandate, is an unprecedented violation of liberty. The Administration’s request that a court pay no attention to the final mandate behind its curtain of spin is only the latest example.