Little Sisters of the Poor Fighting for Religious Liberty

Little Sisters of the Poor Fighting for Religious Liberty
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On March 23rd, the plight of the Little Sisters of the Poor will be heard once again by the U.S. Supreme Court. Having had a favorable though temporary ruling rendered by the Court in January 2014, the religious order must now seek a final judgment on their plea to be exempted from provisions of Obamacare that conflict with their religion.

One cartoon from a series on how the federal government has treated the Sisters. (image from their site).

The Sisters, whose self-appointed mission involves care for elderly persons who cannot fend for themselves, employ numerous lay people in their selfless work. But ObamaCare requires them to pay for a health-care program that includes supplying abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception for any of their lay employees. Since doing so would violate the tenets of their Catholic Faith, the Sisters have sought relief from the government’s mandates.

Founded in France in 1839 by Sister Jeanne Jugan who later was designated a saint by the Church, the order serves the elderly in 31 countries. In 2014, the 2,372 members of their order operated 234 houses. Of these, 31 are in the United States. The nuns all make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and hospitality.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, lawyers for the Sisters went before a panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Their plea to be excused from the health care requirements they opposed was rebuffed. But the full Court of Appeals in that district later ruled in their favor though leaving open a possible appeal by the government. It was then that the Obama administration did appeal, and this appeal is what will be heard by the nation’s highest court in March. A final decision on the matter isn’t expected until later this year.

The Sisters are represented by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group founded in 1994 by Kevin Hasson who previously worked at the Justice Department and a Washington law firm. The name “Becket” stems from their admiration of Saint Thomas Becket who, as Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, tangled with King Henry II and was murdered in the Canterbury Cathedral.

Hasson stepped aside in 2011 and the Fund is now led by President William P. Mumma and Executive Director Kristina Arriaga. Becket Fund‘s clients have included advocates of a variety of religions ranging, as they say, from “A to Z” (Anglicans to Zoroastrians). A previous client, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., did receive an exemption from an Obamacare dictate mandating that the company supply abortifacients to employees. Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 in that 2014 ruling.

The issue propelling the Little Sisters is religious liberty – the right to practice religion unimpeded by overreaching government. Therefore, there’s a lot at stake here. Believers in the Bill of Rights and its guarantee that “the free exercise” of religion shall be maintained will surely be watching for the high court’s eventual decision.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia throws another consideration into the Court’s eventual action. Without doubt, he would have sided with the Sisters. There are four likely supporters of the Sisters and four likely opponents of their plea to be excluded from the requirement to ignore the tenets of the Faith. Should the Court split 4-4, the customary practice calls for reverting to the previous ruling – the one in which the Sisters were granted a pass. Of course, at this point no one knows for sure what will happen.

In any case, the Obama administration has demonstrated by its decision to appeal the previous ruling that it doesn’t believe in religious liberty – even for a group known as The Little Sisters of the Poor.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Supreme Court Overturns Thomas Jefferson. Time to Nullify!

Supreme Court Overturns Thomas Jefferson. Time to Nullify!
by JBS President John F. McManus

There is no mention in the Constitution of federal power to start a medical care program. Likewise, there is no place in the Constitution authorizing any branch of the federal government to redefine marriage away from its millennia-old assertion that a union is of one man and one woman. But the Supreme Court has just sanctioned these federal power grabs adding both to an already frightening accumulation of federal dominance.

Thomas Jefferson commented on this kind of possibility when he wrote:

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government [branch] upon another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

It is hardly an excess to conclude that these two power grabs are not alone, and that all government is being “drawn to Washington.”

Our nation’s third President looked ahead and worried about such an accumulation of power by the federal courts. In 1821, twelve years after he left the Presidency, Jefferson wrote:

It has long been my opinion … that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary … working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one.

When Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act (that’s the official name for ObamaCare), its text stated that tax credit subsidies were to be given to people living where a marketplace for the insurance, called an exchange, had been “established by the state.” Some sharp eyes noted that the federal government, not the states, was already operating the sites where people could sign up. In other words, the feds were breaking the law that clearly said these exchanges were to be state-run. A suit, known as King v. Burwell, went all the way to the Supreme Court. Legal scholars felt correctly that a victory for the plaintiffs would wreck ObamaCare. Fans of federal involvement in the medical industry knew that something had to be done.

And it was done – in a way that even Mr. Jefferson himself would likely not have ever imagined. The Court ruled 6 to 3 in an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts that those who created the law didn’t mean what they had stated, and that “established by the state” didn’t mean that the exchanges (the insurance marketplaces) had to be under state jurisdiction.

What happened here is a continuation of revolutionary court action: the Supreme Court actually re-wrote the law. Justice Scalia’s dissent noted that the words “by the state” were removed from the law “seven times.” The Supreme Court has no authorization to make law because the Constitution’s very first sentence states, “All legislative powers … shall be vested in Congress….” In effect, the current Supreme Court has changed the Constitution’s word “all” to mean “some, if we think it’s necessary.” It has no authority to do so.

So what should be done? States should continue to nullify this clearly unconstitutional law. More and more Americans are clamoring for the states to stand up to the feds. State legislators should oblige them. Our newest video on nullification demonstrates how nullification works and why it works well.

Also, the Constitution, that still stands and to which each Supreme Court justice and each member of Congress still swears a solemn oath to honor, deals with a potentially rogue court in Article III, Section 2. It states: “… the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction … with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”

In other words, the Congress that has just been insulted by the Supreme Court’s arrogance in rewriting its law can pass a measure barring the Supreme Court from having anything to say about the matter. If it followed this path, Thomas Jefferson would rest more easily. And so would all Americans who don’t want the federal government to control the medical profession via ObamaCare.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Obama: The Truth is Not in Him

Obama: The Truth is Not in Him
by JBS President John F. McManus

During a press conference while he was in Brisbane, Australia, President Obama was asked the following penetrating question by Fox News reporter Ed Henry, “At your Burma town hall a couple of days ago, you tried to inspire young leaders by saying, ‘governments need to be held accountable, need to be responsive to the people.’ I wonder how you square that with your former adviser, Jonathan Gruber, claiming you were not transparent about the health care law because in his words, the American people, the voters are stupid. Did you mislead Americans about the taxes, about keeping your plan in order to get the bill passed?”

Mr. Obama responded: “No, I did not. I just heard about this. I get well-briefed before I come out here. The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run.”

But the truth, as radio personality Rush Limbaugh quickly pointed out, is that MIT Professor Gruber did, in fact, participate in meetings with Obama when the measure was being written. Gruber himself bragged about being there and was not just a distant consultant but a key member of the group that crafted the entire bill. As the President later pointed out, Gruber was in attendance at meetings and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his work.

The President continued: “We had a year-long debate and I advise every press outlet here to go back and pull up every clip [about the Affordable Care Act] and there was not one provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and fully transparent.”

But as Professor Gruber stated during those taped panel discussions, he wished that the language in the measure was “all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.” He claimed that the measure “was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.” Because if it had known to be a tax measure, said Gruber, “the bill dies.” The bill, he claimed after it was passed, was written “to do that.” To do what? To deceive the public and the Congress from knowing what he and President Obama knew about the measure.

There are two major problems here. The first is that critically important facts about the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) were kept from the American people and the Congress in order to get it enacted. That’s fraud pure and simple. And the second is that President Obama has confirmed that he is loose with the truth. Professor Gruber, a major player in creating this law, may be reprehensible for participating in the fraudulent selling of ObamaCare. But President Obama has removed all doubt that he is untruthful.

Arriving at the conclusion that the President of our nation can’t be trusted is sad indeed. All Americans should be made aware of this. And Congress should repeal the ObamaCare law in its entirety.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Gruber: The Lies That Led to ObamaCare

Gruber: The Lies That Led to ObamaCare
by JBS President John F. McManus

If a conservative, or even a mere Republican, had made the statements Professor Jonathan Gruber freely delivered at a policy forum a year ago, he or she would have been repudiated by the mass media, shunned by colleagues, and sent out to some pasture. Instead, liberal mouthpieces have excused or ignored what he said as they went about pouring his remarks into their favorite memory hole.

Gruber is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he had a played a key role in crafting the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare. A year ago, well after ObamaCare had been approved by Congress and given a pass by the Supreme Court, he participated in a panel at Stonehill College, a small Catholic institution located about 30 miles south of Boston. His pronouncements were videotaped and have just now appeared on the Internet. I’m sure he and the Obama team wish either that he’d never said what he uttered or that the videotape would never have surfaced.

He first of all admitted to a lack of full disclosure when the law was being considered. “I wish we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.” Obviously, not all aspects of the law were truthfully presented, and lying is now termed a lack of transparency. Gruber added that had it been stated that “healthy people are going to pay in, it would not have passed.” Then, he said, “… this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes.” If the CBO realized that it was a tax measure, which is what the Supreme Court eventually said it was, “the bill dies.” And he went further, stating that the bill was “written to do that.” To do what? “To keep the fact that it is a tax from being known.” So much for complete disclosure!

The deceitful professor went on to admit further deceitfulness and even to insult the American people. He stated: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get for the thing to pass.” Maybe some people are stupid (the ones who don’t vote?), but where were the supposedly tough members of the mass media when ObamaCare had yet to become law?

ObamaCare should be known as government’s takeover of one-seventh of the nation’s economy. The finest health-care system anywhere on earth is in the process of being destroyed by government. Is it constitutional? Only if one can find the words “medical,” “medical care,” or “medicine” in the Constitution. But none of these words are there.

ObamaCare ought to be cancelled. Republican majorities in both houses of Congress must realize that a prime reason why they scored so well in the 2014 elections happens to be non-stupid voter dislike (should we say “abhorrence”) of the government’s move into this critically important arena. Contact House Speaker John Boehner and incoming Senate Majority Leader McConnell and let them know they were lied to by promoters of ObamaCare, and add that you resent one of its architects calling you and other American voters stupid.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


New Taxes in ObamaCare

New Taxes in ObamaCare
by JBS President John F. McManus

There are plenty of sound reasons why Congress and the Supreme Court should never have saddled the American people with ObamaCare. Beyond the simple fact that the federal government has no authorization to meddle in the fields of health and medicine, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) has provided several more reasons to detest the law.

He deliberately chose the widely dreaded Tax Day of April 15 to send a letter to his constituents about new taxes contained within President Obama’s invasion into the field of medical care. The Louisiana senator stated his awareness that April 15th “is always one of the most painful days of the year.” But he wanted to let fellow Louisianans know that ObamaCare has “20 new taxes.”

Pointing to what he termed “the more egregious” levies contained in ObamaCare,” Vitter listed only four of the twenty. These are:

  1. The Medicine Cabinet Tax. ObamaCare does away with a citizen’s use of pre-tax dollars in a health savings account, a flexible spending account, or a health reimbursement account to purchase over-the-counter medicines.
  2. The “Special Needs Kids” Tax. Many parents of special needs children have relied on allowable flexible spending accounts to pay for special needs education. The amount a family can use for this purpose has been cut significantly.
  3. The Employee Mandate Tax. Employers who do not offer health care coverage must now pay $2,000 or more for each full-time employee.
  4. The Individual Mandate Tax. Any person who does not have health insurance and doesn’t participate in ObamaCare will be taxed.

As painful as it may be to learn of these new taxes, Vitter then pointed to the outrageous arrangement whereby members of Congress have exempted themselves and their staffs from participating in the new healthcare program. Instead, as he noted, each of these federal employees receives a “lucrative health care subsidy” with which to purchase his own healthcare program. Obviously, these privileged government personnel don’t have to live under the provisions of ObamaCare. Vitter notes in his message that he has personally refused the subsidy.

The Vitter letter contains his no-holds-barred assertion that there’s a need to “repeal” ObamaCare. It’s comforting to know that a U.S. senator holds such a view because that’s precisely what is needed. But expecting the current Congress to take such a step is unrealistic. Perhaps membership of the new Congress scheduled for election in November will contain enough Vitter-like individuals who will, indeed, cancel one of the most dangerous, costly, and unconstitutional programs ever created.

Go to our “Choose Freedom — STOP ObamaCare” action project page to learn more about stopping ObamaCare and how your state legislature can nullify the ObamaCare law in your state.


Nullification: A Proper Remedy To Federal Overreaching

Nullification: A Proper Remedy To Federal Overreaching
by JBS President John F. McManus

Is there any recourse when federal power exceeds its constitutional bounds? Do the people and the states have to accept whatever the federal government dictates? What can be done in the face of federal overreaching?

Image from our friends at The Tenth Amendment Center.

One generally forgotten answer to the above questions is the process known as “nullification.” It holds back federal power, even cancels any excesses federal officials (in all three branches) require of the people and the states.

Nullification involves a state formally telling the federal government that a particular measure it has handed down will not be obeyed. This isn’t anarchy; it’s common sense. It starts with the seemingly forgotten truth that the states created the federal government, not the other way around. When the states agreed to build a federal government, they didn’t give up their sovereignty. They ceded some powers to a central government and retained the rest.

The Tenth Amendment makes this point very clearly: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Only the powers awarded to the federal government by the Constitution are legitimate; any overstepping of those delegated powers is illegitimate. Should the federal government exceed its properly delegated authority, a state through its legislature has the right to say, “NO!” Without such a right, states could be taken into tyranny.

In 1799, Thomas Jefferson was asked to help in composing what became known as “The Kentucky Resolutions.” Having been welcomed as the 15th state in 1792, Kentuckians wanted to define more clearly what relationship existed between themselves and the federal government. In the Kentucky Resolutions, one can read, “Resolved: That a nullification, by those sovereignties of all unauthorized acts done under the color of that instrument [the Constitution] is the rightful remedy.” Jefferson wrote that for his friends in Kentucky and they happily accepted and published it as their own thinking.

Later, in 1834, James Madison issued his “Notes on Nullification.” He stated: “…nullification of a law can … belong rightfully to a single state as one of the parties of the Constitution; the state not ceasing to avow its adherence to the Constitution.” In other words, refusing to accept the dictates of the federal government is the right – even the duty – of a state. And doing so does not in any way distance the state from the Constitution.

With both Madison who has rightly been named “the Father of the Constitution” and Jefferson on the side of nullification as a proper remedy for federal government excess, no one should deny its use in these troubling times.

Moves are underway in several states to issue decrees nullifying portions of ObamaCare – if not the entire measure. Lovers of liberty will support such moves without hesitation. And once many more Americans become aware that nullification is the proper and useful procedure available to rein in a voracious federal government, liberty will have been given a new – and much needed – boost.

For resolutions you can share with your state legislators on a variety of issues, check out our action projects at JBS.org.


Houston Council Dinner DVDs Available

Council-Dinner-Houston DVDsNow available, a new DVD set of the talks held in Houston at our Council Dinner. Price is $15 for the set of two, and talks include:

DVD 1
John F. McManus – “The North American Union: A Step Toward World Government” – 23 min.

Dr. J. Michael Ritze – “Nullifying ObamaCare: What States Need to do to Protect Health Care” – 41 min.

Arthur R. Thompson – “What Aren’t You Being Told About ObamaCare” – 37 min.
DVD total = 101 min.

DVD 2
Debra Medina – “The Case for Private Property” – 39 min.

Dr. Duke Pesta – “The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching the Truth” – 29 mins.

Judge Sterling Lacy – “One Man’s Journey From Preacher to Political Leader” – 47 mins.
DVD total = 105 min.

(2012, 206 total min., DVD)