The Rev. Larry C. Clark addresses Thursday's celebratory rally outside the federal courthouse in Toledo, which drew representatives from Jobs With Justice Toledo, health-care experts, and other supporters of the law.
To Democrats, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Thursday to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act simply affirmed a well-intentioned law to extend health care to uninsured Americans. To Republicans, it means the job falls to them to repeal a law they see as excessive government encroachment on Americans' rights.
Outside of the political realm, the Toledo Area Jobs With Justice and Interfaith Worker Justice Coalition celebrated the ruling with a rally outside Toledo's federal courthouse.
And the Toledo Catholic Diocese said it still stands in opposition to provisions in the law that it said conflict with religious freedom.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett focused on the claim by Democrats and the Obama Administration that the 2010 health-care law was not a tax increase, something the administration retracted when it defended the law before the Supreme Court.
"When Obama and [Nancy]Pelosi rammed the 2,700-page bill through Congress, they went to great lengths to assure the American people that Obamacare was 'absolutely not a tax increase,' " Mr. Bennett said. He said the election is an opportunity voters have to elect Republican Mitt Romney "to repeal this tax."
Chris Redfern, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the Supreme Court's ruling was legally and morally correct.
Outside the Supreme Court Thursday, Tea Party supporter William Temple of Brunswick, Ga., stood in opposition to the health-care law, which conservatives see as excessive government encroachment.
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"Because of President Obama and Democrats' bold vision, America is on course to lower our health-care costs," Mr. Redfern said. "Hopefully, this ruling will finally end Republicans' concerted push to do everything they can to stand in the way of efforts to expand access to health care while reducing costs."
Sally Oberski, spokesman for Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese, who has criticized the law as an attack on religious freedom because it makes taxpayers pick up the tab for contraceptives, issued a statement that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports health-care reform, but the law is flawed because it "forces people to act against their religious beliefs and conscience."
"What the Bishops continue to do is to urge Congress to pass, and the administration to sign, legislation to fix the lack of protection for religious freedom, disallow the use of federal funds for elective abortions, and include reasonable provisions for the treatment of immigrants," the diocese's statement said.
Linda Bowyer, a board member of the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, said the court's decision will energize the Tea Party movement to reverse the health-care law.
"[The ruling] increases the size of government and puts more regulation into what is private decision-making on one of the most personal of decisions -- your and your family's health," Ms. Bowyer said.
About 40 people gathered Thursday in front of the U.S. District Courthouse on Spielbusch Avenue for a rally to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
"This has been a long hard struggle. We may still have some struggles ahead, but this is a day for rejoicing," said Dr. Warren Tipton, a retired emergency room physician who was among the speakers to talk about the ruling's impact.
Dr. Tipton said the decision will affect the 85 percent of Americans who have insurance and are only one serious injury of illness away from having their coverage canceled and then not be able to obtain health-care insurance because of preexisting conditions.
David Koeninger, senior attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, said there is still work ahead to get state legislatures to expand Medicaid so that people who didn't have coverage can get it.
"It's time for us to get to work. Now that all the arguments are over and the opinion's written it is time to set up those health-care exchanges," he said.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.
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