By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor granted a stay of enforcement of a controversial Obamacare mandate forcing employers to pay for drugs and procedures which many object to on moral, ethical, and religious grounds.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said, “We all have the Constitutional right to practice our religion without government interference. That’s why it is encouraging that the Supreme Court has temporarily halted the Obamacare mandate for contraception. But we will not rely on the Supreme Court to protect this right in Alabama. The Alabama House Republican Caucus is moving forward with legislation that ensure health care workers cannot be forced to provide a service that violates his or her conscience. This bill, sponsored by Representative Becky Nordgren, specifically refers to services relating to abortion, human cloning, human embryonic stem cell research, and sterilization.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a request from religious groups in the U.S. to block a regulatory rule written by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under authority granted to the Obama Administration from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The rule, as written by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requires that all insurance plans sold in the United States provide for contraceptives, including abortion drugs like ru-486. Employers must offer the controversial coverage in employee health coverage regardless of the employer’s religious beliefs effective on Wednesday.
Acting on a request from an order of Catholic nuns in Denver, Justice Sotomayor issued a stay on the controversial Obamacare provision. The U.S. Constitution grants Americans Freedom of Religion, but the Obama administration has narrowly interpreted that to mean freedom of worship and is not applicable to a citizen’s public life, thus even Church affiliated hospitals, schools, book stores, radio stations, or ordered by the administration to comply with its dictates or face fines.
Catholic groups in the U.S. have requested that the mandate be delayed while the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals considers a legal challenge from craft-store chain Hobby Lobby challenging the law on the grounds that it infringes on religious liberty.
Sotomayor is the Justice overseeing the 10th Circuit, so the decision to grant the stay fell to Sotomayor, whose busy New Year’s Eve also included helping ring in 2014 in New York City by lowering the iconic Times Square ball.
The government will have until Friday to respond.
In the 2013 legislative session, the Alabama House Legislature passed the Religious Liberty Act, HB 108. The bill promises to protect the freedom of conscience rights of small Alabama employers from paying for federally mandated contraception coverage in their insurance plans when doing so would violate their religious conscience. The validity of the Alabama law is in question because of recent Supreme Court Rulings defining the Supremacy clause in such a way that federal law, including arguably even administrative writ from the Health and Human Services Department, takes precedence over state laws.
HB 108 was sponsored by Representative Lynn Greer (R) from Lauderdale County.
The State of Alabama is among many parties suing over the contraceptive mandate which they say is a violation of Americans’ religious liberties. The Obama administration similarly has narrowly defined the U.S. Constitution in such way that health care workers have few work place freedom of religion rights.
Recent polling suggests that 62% of the American people now oppose the President’s controversial health care law.