Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Republican-Appointed Judge in Nebraska Dismisses Lawsuits v. Affordable Care Act

Judge Warren Urbom

Nebraska is a solidly red state.  Only four counties voted Democratic in Nebraska in the 2008 presidential election.  And yet yesterday in Nebraska, Judge Warren Urbom, a federal judge appointed by none other than Richard Milhous Nixon, dismissed the suits of seven states, two Catholic individuals, and three Catholic non-profits seeking to block the birth-control coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The suit alleges that the plaintiffs will be "harmed" by the provision of birth control in health insurance plans under ACA.  Urbom ruled that any conceivable harm of the birth-control provision to the plaintiffs is "remote and hypothetical."

This is not really a surprising ruling.  The lack of a sound case for harm to the states and Catholic institutions filing suit against the ACA is patently clear.  They're engaging in political theater in the pre-election period by filing these suits.  And they have to know it.  

It's a cynical ploy to try to drive religious-right voters to the polls in 2012.

And right at the center of the strategy and the frivolous litigation: the U.S. Catholic bishops.  Who claim that, as shepherds of their flock and pre-emiment symbols of Christ within the Catholic community, they're all about healing the wounds of a fractured world and an unjust society.

But who are willing to waste untold sums of money and to demoralize fellow Catholics who do not agree with them politically, as they play cynical partisan political games with frivolous lawsuits.  Their behavior vis-a-vis the healthcare act of the current administration, which will draw some 30 million uncovered Americans into systems of coverage, has become the very definition of scandal in this period leading up to the fall elections in the U.S.

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