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Mandate politics: Nuns vs. the state

President Obama pitched Obamacare as a sword to wield against evil insurance companies. Really, insurance companies will get rich from the law while individual Americans, small businesses and small non-profits will be punished by it. One of those victims is the Little Sisters of the Poor.

That is the Catholic charity that convinced Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor to issue a last-minute injunction on Dec. 31 blocking the Obamacare contraception mandate as it applies to Little Sisters and hundreds of other groups insured by Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, a Catholic insurer.

The White House says Little Sisters could have avoided the mandate by filling out a form, at which point it would be required to pick an insurer that offers contraception to Little Sisters’ employees but not pay for the contraception. But that, the non-profit’s attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argued, still violates the Little Sisters’ religious beliefs. They still would be forced by the law to provide their employees with contraception, including the Plan B “morning after” pill.

To put it another way, the sisters liked their old health care plan, but they are prevented by Obamacare from keeping it.

Why? The administration and its supporters scream, “Women’s rights!” But the mandate is not about women’s rights. It is entirely about electoral politics. The calculation was simple: Use contraception as a wedge issue to energize moderate and liberal women voters, who outnumber conservative Catholic voters. The Little Sisters and other Catholic employers are being forced to commit what they view as a sin for one purpose: to get Democrats elected. They are political pawns.

This is the future of American politics under the command-and-control state that Obama hopes will grow from the seed of Obamacare. Liberals like it now. But no party stays in power forever. Only the power remains, to be used by those who happen to be the most effective at electoral politics in any election year.

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