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Supreme Court rejects Liberty's Obamacare challenge

Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away Liberty University's attempt to overturn a key part of Obamacare.

The case challenged both the employer and individual mandates on grounds of religious freedom, but it also disputed Congress’ power to compel employers to provide insurance. The decision, made Monday without comment, leaves in place the dismissal of Liberty’s claims by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in June 2012 under Congress’ power to tax. The Liberty case asked the courts to consider whether Congress has the same such power over employers.

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Representing Liberty University is Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, who challenged the law the day President Barack Obama signed it in 2010. On Tuesday’s The World and Everything in It, Staver said the issue of the employer mandate isn’t over. “If certainly there is a Court of Appeals that will strike down the employer mandate, that’s going to be a mandatory review by the high court,” Staver said. The employer mandate has survived two high court challenges. Several other cases against the employer mandate are making their ways through lower courts.

Other aspects of Liberty’s case included a challenge to the individual mandate on religious liberty grounds. The case alleged there are situations in which religious people may be forced to contribute to a risk pool that provides abortion. Liberty’s commonwealth of Virginia is one of 23 states to bar insurers from covering elective abortion on the exchanges. The Virginia law exempts abortions for the life of the mother or cases of rape and incest.

In the other 27 states, though, the Obamacare creates a separate $1 monthly charge directly for elective abortions that is added to premiums of those with abortion in their health plans. As the Heritage Foundation outlines, Obamacare doesn’t provide an opt-out for individuals or families if a certain plan fits their needs in every other way.

Finally, Liberty’s case challenged the so-called contraceptive mandate, which forces for-profit business to cover abortifacient birth control drugs like Plan B regardless of owners’ religious objections. The Supreme Court already accepted a case brought by Hobby Lobby on the issue. Arguments on that case will likely take place in March with a ruling as soon as June. The case could set the national precedent on cases of religious freedom for the foreseeable future. 

Listen to more from Mat Staver on The World and Everything in It.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.


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