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Monday, December 16, 2013

Enlarging his rule, shrinking the Constitution -- By Ernest Istook, The Washington Times

 (Illustration by Alexander Hunter, The Washington Times)

Illustration by Alexander Hunter for The Washington TimesObama argues profit-seekers forfeit their First Amendment rights

The disaster of Obamacare could prove minor compared to some of President Obama's other goals. We could lose much of our religious freedom, free speech, free press and more if his other efforts succeed.

Mr. Obama might say that if you like your constitutional rights, you can keep them. His actions, though, reveal a plan to lock in his power by reducing opponents' rights and restricting their ability to thwart his will. The president wants his agenda to be safely beyond the reach of the people's constitutional rights. Then we could be controlled permanently by liberal elites.

Mr. Obama's shows his intent in the pending Supreme Court case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. This case involves more than Obamacare's contraceptive mandate; it's being used as a vehicle to limit other First Amendment rights in addition to religious freedom.

The government's legal briefs in Hobby Lobby don't focus in familiar ways on federal authority or balancing constitutional rights or the boundaries between church and state. Instead, Mr. Obama's solicitor general advances the novel legal argument that constitutional rights are reduced whenever a profit motive is involved. If the Supreme Court agrees, it gives Mr. Obama a hammer he would wield to kneecap his political opponents. Ever since the 2010 decision in Citizens United, he has gone overboard in denouncing corporate speech, even endorsing a constitutional amendment to restrict it. Ever since he has been president, Mr. Obama has gone overboard in trying to control, manipulate and intimidate the media.

A favorable Hobby Lobby ruling could provide Mr. Obama with a springboard for penalizing corporations and the press whenever they interfere with the White House message, bolstering his frequent complaint that they stir people up against him in order to make money. Simultaneously, that advances his redistribution agenda ("income inequality" in Obama-speak) of denouncing profit-seekers and pushing people to depend more on government and less on the private sector.

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