Well known Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black once stated, “I am for the First Amendment from the first word to the last. I believe it means what it says.” In part, what it says is that, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” To prove how serious the authors of the Bill of Rights were about this indispensable freedom, they gave Americans the ability to defend the right by force if necessary in the very next Amendment. Even given the historic support from the high court for the First Amendment and the means to defend it given by the Founders, this past week the Obama administration violated its oath to uphold the Constitution by issuing a decree abridging the First Amendment right to speech.
In a memo to private health insurers from a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Obama administration issued a decree ordering them to stop informing Medicare beneficiaries that health reform legislation before Congress could hurt them and curtail their benefits if enacted. The memo went on to say that the government might take legal action against insurers that are mobilizing opposition to the legislation by sending “misleading and confusing” messages to seniors.
Say what you will about insurance companies, this is by no means a defense of them. It is instead a rebuke of an administration that is playing fast and loose with basic rights guaranteed to all Americans, including corporations. In the United States, corporations are separate legal entities that retain the same rights as individuals. Humana has as much right to speak out for or against federal legislation as I do. Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have no power to abridge Humana’s right to free speech. Obama should know this, given that he is a constitutional lawyer.
Secondly, the decree smacks of fascism. Corporations do not exist in America to serve the interests of the state. Obama has this collectivist mindset, a lot like the previous administration, “you are for us or against us.” Any discord with the Administration’s positions and you may find yourself threatened with legal action. Perhaps the President is confused. Maybe he has let his takeover and running of GM, Chrysler, and AIG cloud his vision and he now thinks that he can dictate the terms of existence for all American companies. Unfortunately, few members of his own party have expressed any discomfort with the decree. In fact, Democratic Senator Max Baucus has urged HHS to crack down on the mailings. Not only is our government not listening to the people, it is now also attempting to stifle the peoples’ dissent.