Members of both Houses of Congress, and the president, take an oath of office that requires each of them to abide by the Constitution. In the oath of members of the House and Senate are the words, ". . . support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic", and in the presidential oath are the words, ". . . and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States". Clearly, each elected official is required to abide by, and to protect and defend, the words in the Constitution.
Part of the Constitution is the Bill of Rights; the First Ten Amendments. These Amendments were necessary to secure ratification of the Constitution by the States. The First Amendment is deemed to be the most important and reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances".
The importance of the two preceding paragraphs is that it can be argued that elected members of the government, in both the Legislative and Executive branches have seriously failed to live up to their oath of office by passing legislation, namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), that has the effect of attacking the "free exercise clause" of the First Amendment, and by the Executive branch making unilateral changes to that law after it had been enacted, without getting the approval of the Congress for those changes.
With the legislation passed and signed into law by the president, the bill which no one had a chance to read prior to its being passed, then became available and its dictatorial aspects that directly attacked the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment were exposed. While the PPACA law consisted of 381,517 words, regulations having the force of law, which were issued by the Executive branche's Department of Health and Human Services, totaled 11,588,500 words.
Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2, of the Constitution provides that legislation passed by both houses of Congress shall be presented to the president who can accept it as written and sign it into law, or, if he has any objections, he is to return it to the house of Congress in which the bill was originated. When the president signed the PPACA bill into law, it had specific requirements that were to be met. According to the Galen Institute, the president acted unilaterally 32 times in making changes to the law, without seeking Congressional approval. It would appear that the president violated the oath he took to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution's Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2.
In addition to the above violation, it must be noted that the Federal Government, through the PPACA, made numerous challenges to the First Amendment, specifically by prohibiting citizens from their right to the free exercise of their religion. The law and its regulations demands that religious institutions and citizens either violate the tenets of their faith or be severely fined for not doing so. For example,
— Religious institutions have resisted the provision in the PPACA that free birth control be included in the insurance plans they provide to their employees and, in the case of their colleges, to their students.
— Religious institutions have resisted the requirement to have a variety of birth control measures included in their insurance plans, including "morning after" pills that cause conception to be terminated.
— Religious institution hospitals have resisted the demand to provide abortion services. It should be noted that these hospitals provide 20 percent of all the hospital beds in the nation.
— Religious organizations that have taken a vow of poverty and that provide nursing care to the poor, were required to either provide their employees with health care which included contraception and the morning after abortion pill, or to be subject to penalties and fines in the millions of dollars.
— Businesses owned by deeply religious people that have historically provided their employees with health care coverage that included a number of contraceptives, but who did not want to include any abortion inducing pills or other abortion services that would end a life, were forced to seek relief from the courts.
We are witnessing a callous disregard of our Constitution by those who have taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend it. If we, the people, passively accept what has been done because it doesn't affect us, what will our reaction be when it does?
(Bob Meade is a resident of Laconia.)
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