Today, the federal government — due to an alleged lack of funding to the Department of Justice — asked the judge handling AFLC’s federal lawsuit challenging the Obamacare contraception mandate on behalf of Priests for Life to delay the case. When the government lawyer handling the case for the Obama administration sought AFLC’s concurrence in their motion for a stay, we told the lawyer that we would agree to the stay so long as the government agreed to stay the enforcement of the challenged mandate as against Priests for Life until the court has had a chance to rule on the merits. The Obama lawyer refused. Consequently, the government wants, for some indefinite period of time, to stay proceedings that challenge what we know to be an unconstitutional government mandate that violates Priests for Life’s fundamental rights; yet, the government won’t agree to stay the mandate pending a resolution of the serious legal questions raised in these same proceedings. Thus, we filed an opposition today to the government’s motion.
Indeed, yesterday, President Obama, anticipating the government shutdown, which, somewhat ironically, is a result of a dispute over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act—the very law at issue here—stated, in relevant part, as follows:
So let me be clear about this. An important part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect tomorrow no matter what Congress decides to do today. The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down. This is a law that passed both houses of Congress; a law that bears my signature; a law that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional; a law that voters chose not to repeal last November; a law that is already providing benefits to millions of Americans in the form of young people staying on their parents’ plan until they’re 26, seniors getting cheaper prescription drugs, making sure that insurance companies aren’t imposing lifetime limits when you already have health insurance, providing rebates for consumers when insurance companies are spending too much money on overhead instead of health care. Those things are already happening. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/30/statement-president).
Thus, according to President Obama, even though the government wants to “shut down” this litigation for the duration of the government shut down, it is not willing to “shut down” the government mandate that is at the heart of this litigation and will seek to enforce it against Priests for Life when the bell tolls to ring in the New Year (the mandate takes full effect against Priests for Life on January 1, 2014).
In the final analysis, per President Obama, the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, which includes the contraceptive services mandate, are “moving forward . . . funding is already in place.” Thus, if the government is going to force private citizens to abide by mandates that violate fundamental constitutional rights, then the government should have to defend those mandates in a court of law.