Written by Tom Fitton
Here we are. Day four of the Obamacare occupation and our government-run health insurance “market” is in complete chaos. A massive system breakdown – or a “glitch” if you believe Obama – has caused mass frustration for consumers trying to wrap their heads around the behemoth healthcare overhaul and what it means for them and their families. I know that we tried to check out the health insurance options for Judicial Watch, but we were stymied by an impenetrable DC government Internet site.
Image Credit DC Clothesline
I tried to look as a consumer, and was told that I could not even window shop without giving away personal information about my family and me. No thanks to that! The federal government, meanwhile, has been partly shut down because Obama refuses to yield any ground to a brave band of conservatives who are adamant that the destructive Obamacare legislation be “delayed, defunded, repealed and replaced.”
And in this red-hot environment Judicial Watch moved to undertake a key lawsuit to stand against this president’s abuse of office.
On Tuesday, at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, JW announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Larry Kawa of Kawa Orthodontics against the U.S. Department of Treasury, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, the Internal Revenue Service and IRS Director Daniel Werfel.
Dr. Kawa is challenging the Obama administration’s decision to delay the enactment of the so-called “employer mandate” provision of Obamacare.
Our lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of the Boca Raton based company, argues that the delay of the employer mandate “exceeded [the Obama administration’s] statutory authority, is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, and is otherwise unlawful.”
Now, as you probably know by now, the employer mandate, which subjects certain large employers to tax penalties if they do not offer “affordable,” “minimum essential” health insurance coverage to their employees, is “one of the pillars” of Obamacare – and one of its most controversial tenets.
By law, the mandate was required to take effect January 1, 2014. On July 2, 2013, however, the Obama administration officially postponed the mandate. And here’s why this is a problem for Kawa Orthodontics, and the 200,000 (at least!) other large employers in the U.S.: These companies invested substantial resources and effort to prepare for the controversial provision, which now won’t take effect for another year.
Per the complaint:
“[Kawa Orthodontics] expended substantial time and resources, including money spent on legal fees and other costs, in preparation for the ‘employer mandate’ taking effect on January 1, 2014….[The company] would not have expended its time and resources and incurred these anticipatory costs in 2013 if the mandate had not been scheduled to take effect until 2015, but instead would have spent its time, resources, and money on other priorities.”
Kawa Orthodontics employs more than 70 full-time employees in Florida. The company is owned by orthodontist Larry Kawa, a longtime Florida resident and hardworking American community business leader, who expressed the feelings of numerous businesspeople across America in a statement to the press: “I am tired of Washington, DC, picking winners and losers and giving preferential treatment to those inside the Beltway. This is just more of DC career politicians protecting their own.”
With respect to JW’s legal argument, the complaint alleges that the decision to delay the employer mandate violates the Administrative Procedure Act, which forbids “agency action” that exceeds an agency’s statutory authority, is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. In other words, the president simply can’t change a law because it might be politically (or otherwise) inconvenient. The complaint asks the court to enter a judgment declaring the delay to be unlawful and an injunction prohibiting the delay.
Now, allow me to address a question that must be running through your mind: Doesn’t Judicial Watch oppose the employer mandate?
Yes, we do. We object to the employer mandate and the entire Obamacare law, which is why we filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging its constitutionality. But we also understand that, under the U.S. Constitution, the law can only be changed by legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president.
And to paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant, the best way to ensure the repeal of a bad law is to enforce it vigorously.
Obama’s decision to delay the employer mandate is a flagrantly transparent attempt to delay the damage of his health care scheme until after the 2014 congressional elections. But politics do not trump the Constitution or the rule of law. And that is why we are in court.
You can view the press conference in its entirety here. You can see how Judicial Watch and Dr. Kawa are great partners in this effort to hold Obama to account.
More in the coming weeks!
Evidently, we can now add “World War II veterans” to the list of the Obama administration’s political enemies.
On Wednesday, the National Park Service blocked access to the national memorials and attempted to arrest World War II veterans who were in town visiting their memorial for the first and likely last time as part of a program called Honor Flight.
Park Service officers say the Obama administration ordered the barricades, citing the government shut down. (See story and JW photos here.) But there is no legal justification for closing the memorials, which is open to the public 24 hours a day, much less arresting war heroes. The memorial was paid for with private donations, and the government is actually spending more money to keep it closed than to allow it to be open!
And it’s not just memorials in DC: “Visitors have not been able to pay their respects to the 9,387 military dead at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach since the U.S. government shut it down on Monday,” The Associated Press reported.
As I said in an interview with OneNewsNow, this is Chicago-style politics at its worst: “It’s like a Chicago ward operation running our government here in Washington, DC. They’re spending money to try to punish political enemies – and seemingly the administration considers its political enemies to be veterans and tourists trying to come and visit Washington. We saw the shutting down of open-air memorials as an outrage.”
Of course the veterans would have none of it. They pushed past the barricades and National Park Service security and continued their mission to see the World War II memorial built to honor their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those who list their lives in battle. (I understand that patriotic police on the scene pretended not to see what was going on.)
I can tell as soon as we heard, Judicial Watch has initiated an investigation literally within an hour. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of the Interior to find out how and why this ridiculous decision was made. And who made it.
I can tell you that I about blew a gasket when I heard what was going on. I know that we have many veterans on staff and thousands who support our work. I personally went to the WW II Memorial to investigate. While I was there Wednesday afternoon, I counted at least six National Park Service personnel and three vehicles being used to secure the site from visiting veterans and tourists. (I also saw at least one active Navy seaman there to visit and unable to enter the Memorial). The Park Service personnel had placed metal ties on the fencing to keep them in place. I witnessed Park Service employees also placing sand bags to help secure the fencing! (Here are some pictures I took at the scene for you to see.)
News regarding the Obama barricades is breaking by the hour. And I will have more for you as events develop.
I don’t know how the government fiscal battles are going to be resolved but I do think one thing should result from this: Clean house at the Interior Department and the National Park Service. And any White House official involved in desecrating – yes, I consider it to be desecration – these war memorials and military cemeteries should lose their jobs.
Last week I told you about a Judicial Watch lawsuit seeking records from the Obama Defense Department regarding the U.S. Air Force’s decision to remove the words “So help me God” from the oath given to USAF inductees.
This shocking departure from history and the U.S. Constitution may seem from left field for many of you. But it will make more sense when you learn a little bit about the type of radical atheists who are repeatedly granted an audience with top Pentagon brass.
On September 10, 2013, JW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Defense seeking “all records and communications” between the Pentagon and Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder Mikey Weinstein.
And who is Mikey Weinstein? Well, to say he is a controversial activist is an understatement. He has compared evangelicals with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and has called for the court martial of Christian chaplains. Actually, gets worse. Per Breitbart.com, Weinstein has called Christians “monsters” imposing a “rapacious reign of theocratic terror” and says sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military an act of “sedition and treason” that must be punished.
To me these sound like the rantings of someone with a serious mental illness. But evidently, to Defense officials, this was a man who deserved an audience with leaders inside the Pentagon – more than once!
As reported by The Washington Post, on May 23, 2013, Weinstein met with a group of top Pentagon officials, including the Air Force Judge Advocate General, other generals, and a military chaplain, to discuss his concerns about religious issues in the U.S. military. After Breitbart broke the story of the high-level meeting, the Pentagon sent out an email suggesting it was a one-time event, admitting only to a single meeting on April 23, 2013. Further investigation, however, revealed that it may have been part of a continuing relationship dating back to the beginning of the Obama administration.
For example, on March 1, 2009, the New York Times reported that Weinstein met with the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwarz, on February 24, 2009. The story noted this was the first time Weinstein and MRFF had “gotten an audience with a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Weinstein has a long history of opposing the exercise of religious liberty in the military, including, according to the New York Times, “official military retreats at off-base churches, the appearance of uniformed officers at religious events, displays of crucifixes at military chapels in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the practice of ‘dipping’ the American flag at the altar of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., among others.”
In a Huffington Post article entitled “The Pentagon Most Certainly is Listening to Mikey Weinstein,” Chris Rodda, the senior research director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reinforced Weinstein’s relationship with the Pentagon, boasting that he forced Idaho’s Mountain Home Air Force Base to remove an inspirational piece of artwork from its dining facility with a single phone call:
Mikey immediately called the Pentagon because, you know, he can do that (to the obvious consternation of the folks at breitbart.com, certain members of Congress, and other modern-day Christian crusaders).
“Fifty-six minutes after his call to the Pentagon, the image of the crusader, with its odious melding of the crusader flag with the American flag, had been removed from the dining hall.”
Once again, we are seeing the continuation of a disturbing trend with this Obama administration, where radical leftists are given prominent seats at the table inside the Obama administration, helping to craft policies that impact all Americans and undermine the U.S. Constitution.
As I’ve detailed lately in this space, there is increasing intolerance for the First Amendment rights of traditional Christians in today’s military. That’s why American people deserve to know the full truth about just how close the relationship is between anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein and the Obama Department of Defense.
The Left’s attack on election integrity did not end with the president’s re-election. In fact, it continues to this very day. As evidenced by the Justice Department’s recent decisions to sue the State of Texas and North Carolina over their election integrity laws. (This, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling arguably paving the way for Texas and North Carolina to impose such election integrity measures without federal interference.)
With ACORN splintered into hundreds of difficult to track “Frankensteins,” as former ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis has called them; with radical groups like Project Vote and the ACLU setting up shop inside the Obama administration; with illegal immigration amnesty finding favor in Congress; and with the most corrupt Attorney General in modern U.S. history using the full weight of the nation’s top law enforcement agency to attack states that try to keep elections clean – this is a long term battle against some very powerful forces.
And that is why I am pleased to tell you that JW recently added some power to its Election Integrity Project bringing on attorney Robert D. Popper to lead our “clean election” efforts.
As Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Robert Popper led complex litigations involving the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act, and he obtained favorable results in major lawsuits in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and California.
Here’s a statement I offered to the press on Popper’s hiring:
“We are pleased and proud to welcome Robert Popper on board. Judicial Watch has made election integrity a centerpiece of its activities. As one of the nation’s top lawyers in the area of election law, Robert Popper shares its deep and sincere interest in making certain that every vote cast is legitimate. Bob will be helping lead our efforts to strengthen the integrity of our elections – which is under unprecedented assault by the Obama Justice Department and allied leftist groups.”
Bob Popper added:
“I am thrilled to be joining an organization with a history of activism in behalf of open and honest government administration. I look forward to advancing the goals of Judicial Watch through its Election Integrity Project.”
Mr. Popper has garnered numerous professional awards, including the Justice Department’s prestigious Special Commendation Award for Outstanding Service.
Prior to joining the DOJ, Mr. Popper worked as a private attorney in New York City for 17 years. He served as trial counsel in federal and state trials, appeals, and arbitrations. His practice extended to a wide range of legal matters – including voting rights. Mr. Popper served as both trial and appellate counsel in a successful constitutional challenge alleging racial segregation in the design of New York’s congressional districts. As counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr. Popper obtained a favorable ruling from a three-judge federal panel in the Eastern District of New York, which was summarily affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Popper is a published author on the topic of voting rights law. He developed a legal standard relating to gerrymandering that is widely cited by experts and was adopted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. He has spoken about voting rights to a conference of U.S. Attorneys at the National Advocacy Center, to a conference of state officials, and before countless local community representatives. He has testified before the Missouri Senate Redistricting Committee on gerrymandering. He has made radio and television appearances on behalf of the Heartland Institute.
Mr. Popper is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University Law School. He is admitted to practice in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judicial Watch is committed to fighting for election integrity. We continue to work with some big-time champions for election integrity, including J. Christian Adams and True the Vote. And now we are very excited to have Robert Popper on our team, helping to stop the Left from stealing elections.
Folks, this is a battle that must be fought and won. If you agree with me, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our cause. We appreciate your support!
Until next week…
Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation's public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.