225 years ago, the Founders of our Great Republic gave us a gift; The United States Constitution. This monumental document changed the nature of the relationship between the governed and government. No longer could government keep the citizenry under its boot with unlimited power, for this Constitution laid out in plain, but specific detail what the government was allowed to do. These enumerated powers contained the full extent of government’s power over our lives. In order to drive the point home, the 9th and 10th Amendment were carefully crafted and adopted as part of the Bill of Rights.
Fast forward 225 years to June 28, 2012: The Supreme Court upholds the clear violation of our Constitution and a vast overreach of Federal power. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is so massive, we’re still learning what’s in it, and each time that we do, we find another reason to support its full repeal. Today, however, I want to talk about how this law affects people of faith.
One troubling portion of this law requires churches, and other faith based organizations to provide services to employees that may, and in many cases certainly does, violate their religious beliefs and their private conscience. This law requires that birth control and abortifacient drugs be provided by all “employers,” even if their religious beliefs forbid it. (This portion of the ACA is strikingly similar to Governor Christine Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna’s publicly funded war against the Stormans family. For more on that, please see here and here.) In fact, this law goes even further. Included in Section 1303 of the Act, individuals enrolled in some health insurance plans are required to pay a separate premium for abortion. Not only is this a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which in part states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” but violates the Washington State Constitution, as well.
Article 1, Section 11 of our State Constitution guarantees “Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion.” I’ve had people tell me things like “But that’s just our state’s Constitution. Don’t we have to defer to the Federal government on this?” My answer to that is “Sure. We can do that.” Article 1, Section 2 of our State Constitution even states that “The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.” That simply brings us back to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which we covered earlier.
The two candidates in Washington State’s gubernatorial race have both pledged to fully implement the Affordable Care Act in our state, completely disregarding both our State Constitution and that of the United States. By pledging to implement this law, they are pledging to forcibly take away the religious liberty guaranteed to us by two separate Constitutions. I have a different philosophy. I believe that words have meanings. I believe that Constitutional rights, given to us by our Creator, should not be infringed upon. I don’t believe that anyone, be they a legislator, a governor, or even a Supreme Court Justice can take those rights away from any of us.
Governors of our State take an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington,” and the unfortunate reality is that Washington State will not have a governor who will ensure that the citizens of Washington State have those rights secured against any who would stand against them. So what are we to do? We must fight to elect courageous men and women to our State House and Senate. We must do the same on a federal level. Conservatives should pledge to stand and fight for Constitutionality and to ensure that all of our citizens can worship freely and exercise their conscience in matters of faith, no matter who tries to take them away.
In the words of former gubernatorial candidate Shahram Hadian, “I want to be clear, the fight is on.” It’s time to “invoke our 10th Amendment rights and fight tooth and nail in refusing to implement any part of Obamacare. Period.”
Together, we can bring the rule of law, and respect for our Constitution back to the State of Washington.