Christina Villegas

Madison concludes that the right to property is fundamental to liberty because it extends not only to a man’s “land, merchandize, or money,” but also to “his opinions and the free communication of them,” as well as “his religious opinions,” and “the profession and practice dictated by them.” Thus, the right to freedom of conscience is merely one aspect of the individual’s broader right to property. Madison warns that “[w]here an excess of power prevails…no man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”

In this sense, the President has shown a blatant disregard for the individual right to property, and hence liberty in general, by dictating how all employers, non-religious and religious alike, must spend and invest their own money, regardless of their personal beliefs or opinions. Furthermore, the President has imposed this sweeping dictate without any deliberation in Congress, the body actually charged by the Constitution with the power to legislate.

Although several members of Congress have pledged to reverse the mandate if the President does not, the President is not entirely at fault for this extensive use of executive authority. Congress, in fact, shoulders much of the blame. While the Constitution vests legislative power in Congress, Congress has been a complicit party in delegating statutory authority to executive branch agencies.

Such is the case that led to the current mandate. In passing Obamacare, Congress sought to avoid the troublesome details of the law—which they knew would alarm many, or even most, Americans—so they delegated authority over the specifics to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. That's why Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that we would need to pass the bill to find out what was in it. We are just beginning to discover the truth of her statement, and the sweeping power to micromanage individual behavior that Congress handed over to the Executive branch.

Consequently, in order to truly protect individual liberty, Congress must do more than just repeal the HHS mandate. More importantly, it must stop passing bills that delegate broad statutory authority to the President and his minions. Congress should make it a priority to cease writing blank checks to the executive branch, which allow the President to run roughshod over the rights and liberties of Americans.

Christina Villegas

Christina Villegas is a Visiting Fellow with the Independent Women's Forum.