Supreme Court Revives Liberty University's Contraceptives Lawsuit
Update (July 11, 2013): Reuters reports that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia has tossed out Liberty University's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) entire employer mandate. A spokesman for the school says Liberty already plans to appeal the court's 3-0 ruling.
Other Christian colleges are challenging only the employer-provided contraceptive mandate. Liberty's lawsuit is the only suit to challege the entire employer mandate after the Supreme Court upheld the personal mandate in June 2012. Liberty argued that the ACA "violated the constitution's Commerce Clause by forcing large employers to provide health insurance to full-time workers and violated First Amendment religious protections by subsidizing abortions," Reuters states.
According to Politico Pro, "The panel rejected the contraception challenge on a technicality—not on the merits—because Liberty did not include that aspect in its first court filings in 2010 and a lower court never heard it."
After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) individual mandate this summer, Liberty University's entire lawsuit was dismissed.
But the school earned a small victory on Monday, when the Supreme Court–in an unusual move–ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear Liberty's case against the ACA's mandate for employer-provided contraceptives coverage. Liberty argues that both aspects of the contraceptives mandate are unconstitutional and infringe on religious free-exercise rights.
According to Politico, the Fourth Circuit could hear the case as early as spring 2013, setting the stage for the contraceptives mandate to appear before the Supreme Court.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has not yet responded to the Supreme Court's order, but solicitor general Donald Verrilli has stated that the DOJ would not oppose a hearing because the case addresses issues that the individual-mandate ruling did not.
CT previously reported when Liberty University originally filed suit in 2010. CT also recently reported on the evangelical response to the Supreme Court's ruling on the individual mandate in June and on the surprising evangelical groups suing the federal government over the contraceptives mandate.