Peter J. Smith


Unconstitutional: Virginia federal judge rules against Obamacare

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

RICHMOND, Virginia, December 13, 2010 ( – A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that a section of the national health care law is unconstitutional, making it the first time a federal judge has ruled in favor of the law’s opponents.

(Read the ruling here.)

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in Richmond today declared that Congress had no authority under the U.S. Constitution to mandate individuals buy health insurance or pay a fine to the federal government. That provision is the linchpin of the national health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. It requires that all healthy individuals pay into health insurance plans so that insurance companies can afford to provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions and expensive health problems.

“Despite the laudable intentions of Congress in enacting a comprehensive and transformative health care regime, the legislative process must still operate within constitutional bounds,” Hudson ruled. “Salutatory goals and creative drafting have never been sufficient to offset an absence of enumerated powers.”

“At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance - or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage - it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate,” Hudson wrote in his decision.

The ruling was a victory for Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, who had challenged the law on the basis of a conflicting Virginia statute that prohibits individuals in the state from being forced to buy health insurance. Cuccinelli had also argued that the law violates the bounds of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.

Hudson agreed that Congress overstepping the bounds of the commerce clause by compelling people to buy a product (health insurance) could have major implications when the principle is applied to other areas.

“An enactment that exceeds the power of Congress to adopt adversely affects everyone in every application,” he said.

Hudson did not issue an injunction, but said that the “the award of declaratory judgment is sufficient to stay the hand of the executive branch pending appellate review.”

Hudson declared that part of the law (sec. 1501) dealing with the individual mandate unconstitutional, but declined to declare the whole law unconstitutional. Instead, Hudson chose to sever that part of the Affordable Care Act from the rest of the law.

“I am gratified we prevailed,” said Cuccinelli in a statement. “This won’t be the final round, as this will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, but today is a critical milestone in the protection of the Constitution.”

Incoming U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called Hudson’s ruling a “clear affirmation” of the unconstitutional nature of the Affordable Care Act and he challenged President Obama to file a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“In this challenging environment, we must not burden our states, employers, and families with the costs and uncertainty created by this unconstitutional law, and we must take all steps to resolve this issue immediately,” Cantor said.

Family Research Council’s Special Legal Counsel Ken Klukowski said, however, that Hudson’s ruling only got it “half right.”

Klukowski said that he should have struck down the whole law, because the severed individual mandate “is essential to a complex law.”

“Striking down the mandate requires a court to strike down the entire statute and return the matter entirely to Congress,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, said in a statement that the GOP and willing allies would continue the fight for “patient-centered health care,” and undo the government-centered health care legislation. A fight to defund, repeal, and replace the Affordable Care Act is expected once the GOP takes over the House of Representatives in January.

“We should focus on the principles of access, affordability, quality, responsiveness, innovation, and patients’ choices without putting the federal government in charge,” he said. 

So far two federal judges have upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate, while only one has struck it down.

However U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola is set to hear oral arguments on Thursday in the second major challenge to the ACA. That one is led by Florida AG Bill McCollum and is joined by 19 other attorneys general representing their respective states.

In all, there are just under two dozen legal challenges to the ACA making their way through federal courts.

Read Judge Hudson’s decision here.

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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