November 26, 2012 — The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear arguments by Liberty University challenging the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) employer coverage requirements and the contraceptive coverage rules being implemented under the law, Politico reports.
The court dismissed Liberty's case when it upheld the constitutionality of the ACA in June (Haberkorn, Politico, 11/26). The conservative Christian university argues that it should have another chance to challenge the law because it opposes it on different grounds than the case that ended up before the court. Liberty is challenging both the individual mandate and the requirement that large employers provide health coverage for their workers.
Liberty claims the law violates its religious freedom by requiring the purchase of health coverage that it says indirectly contributes to the funding of abortion. It also argues that the law violates the Constitution's equal protection guarantee and exceeds Congress' power to levy taxes and regulate commerce.
Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling on the ACA, the 4th Circuit said it could not rule on Liberty's case because the Anti-Injunction Act prevents suits over a tax that has yet to be levied. However, the Supreme Court said in its decision on the ACA that the Anti-Injunction Act did not apply to the individual mandate, which Liberty says shows that the lower court was wrong for declining its case (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/1).
The high court on Monday agreed to Liberty University's request to reopen its case and ordered the 4th Circuit to hear oral arguments, which could begin as early as next spring.
According to Politico, the school's lawyers aim to bring the suit back before the Supreme Court. If the case does reach the high court, it could be late next year (Politico, 11/26).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership