Supreme Court saves Obamacare, kills Stolen Valor

by Kenneth Leonard

Affordable Care Act

What’s the big deal with the Affordable Care Act, aka Romneycare? Oops, I meant Obamacare. I get them confused. They’re the same thing, aren’t they? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Opposition to the ACA is rooted in greedy partisanship and does not come from concerns for the well being of our nation or its citizens. This is obvious to anyone who has taken even a cursory glance at the ACA. For  the uninitiated, it essentially puts a stop to some of the abusive practices of health insurance corporations and helps more Americans gain admittance to programs designed to increase access to health care coverage.

For example, one of the provisions of the ACA, called the “medical loss ratio,” obligates insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of money collected from consumers on health care. Yes, you read that correctly. The ACA is going to force health care companies to actually spend money on health care. This makes forprofit health insurance providers very unhappy because health insurance companies absolutely hate sick people and would do anything to avoid paying for them to get treatment.

Hey, health insurance companies, I totally get it. How are you supposed to make any money if you are actually required to provide the service people are paying you for? It’s so unfair. I should mention that much opposition to the ACA comes from sources other than the forprofit health care industry and its army of lobbyists. There are a lot of conservatives out there who are heated by the very idea of the ACA. To be clear about “conservatives,” I mean folks who ascribe to Ayn Rand’s ideology about the virtue of selfishness.

The bottom line in regards to Romneycare — I mean, Obamacare — is that measures are being put in motion to protect consumers by placing their well-being ahead of the profitability of their illnesses. Who could object to that?

Stolen Valor Act

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding health care was another monumental decision lost in the media frenzy. The highest legal authority in the nation ruled against the Stolen Valor Act, which  imposed criminal penalties against those who fraudulently claimed rights to military service or awards.

The justices determined in a six-to-three ruling that lying about military service was protected by the First Amendment. Justice Anthony Kennedy, asserted the First Amendment “protects the speech we detest, as well as the speech we embrace.”

On one hand, the court’s decision is highly disappointing. People who falsely claim military service or lie about earning military honors or various distinctions are, without question, charlatans and reprobates who deserve nothing more than the utmost contempt and disdain.

The Stolen Valor Act imposed strict penalties against these defrauders, whose lies were horribly disrespectful to the men and women who actually served their countries honorably. The Stolen Valor Act was a step in the right direction to preserve a sense of veneration for our troops, but the act was flawed in one major legal sense.

You see, it’s not illegal to be a wretched, shamming, lying and deceptive worm. Freedom of speech does apply to liars, and — it truly pains me to write these words in regards to this decision — the Supreme Court was absolutely correct in its legal assessment of the Stolen Valor Act.

As veterans around the country respond to the decision, it’s important to remember what the Supreme Court is. The court exists to uphold legal authority — not moral authority. While many feel very strong about the moral issue at hand, the legal issue isan entirely different matter.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer issued the following statement in support of the ruling: “Perfectly respectable people sometimes lie to protect their privacy, avoid hurt feelings, make others feel better, duck minor obligations or protect themselves and others from prejudice. If the court had endorsed the government’s sweeping argument, the government could regulate all of these false statements and even criminalize them.”

Jaffer understands what’s at stake when these legal decisions are made. The Supreme Court protected freedom of speech. It is for this reason that we are still completely free to vehemently reject the actions of those  who would attempt to plagiarize the honor of American heroes.

— Kenneth Leonard, staff writer, is an English senior and a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.