Liberty University Set to Challenge ObamaCare in Court
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Posted by AIM Newswire — November 30, 2012
WASHINGTON — In the first legal challenge since Justice John Roberts decided the fate of ObamaCare, Liberty University, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, may now also argue that Congress exceeded its power by requiring big employers to provide healthcare coverage to workers.
In June, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote upheld most of the healthcare reform, but left open a possibility for groups or individuals to challenge how the law is applied. Conservatives were upset and liberals appeased, but little notice was given to the failure of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who had helped craft ObamaCare during her time in the Obama administration.
Oral arguments were set to proceed in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia this past Monday.
Liberty University filed one of the first private lawsuits against the overhaul, on the day Obama signed the law in 2010.
It claimed that forcing individual taxpayers and employers to subsidize abortions and contraception impeded the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to Liberty University, the Supreme Court decision in June did not address the employer mandate or the religious freedom claims.
Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University in Virginia, said the challenge to the employer mandate would be a “tough sell” based on the June decision, which let Congress require people to buy health insurance under its power to tax.
The Supreme Court in June formally declined to review Liberty’s appeal. But the university later said that because the 4th Circuit was wrong to decide it lacked jurisdiction, its decision should be thrown out, and a new lawsuit should proceed.
Liberty Counsel, a law firm that represents the university, said Monday’s order could pave the way for the case to return to the Supreme Court in 2013. Lawyer Mathew Staver said, “Congress exceeded its power by forcing every employer to provide federally mandated insurance…but even more shocking is the abortion mandate, which collides with religious freedom and the rights of conscience.”
More than 40 other lawsuits are challenging a mandate that group health plans provide coverage for emergency contraceptives, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. At least two federal judges have temporarily blocked the requirement from being enforced against the religious owners of a family business.
The case is Liberty University et al v. Geithner et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-438.