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Supreme Court Allows Revival of Challenge against Healthcare Reform

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way for the Liberty University, a Christian college to pursue a religion-based challenge against part of the healthcare reform implemented by President Barack Obama. The challenge would be upon claims that the healthcare law unfairly compels taxpayers and employers to subsidize abortions and contraception.

However, the Liberty University would also be able to argue that the Congress had exceeded its power by requiring large employers to provide healthcare coverage to workers.

The instant order by the Supreme Court would allow the Liberty University to have oral arguments before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

Earlier, in June, the Supreme Court had upheld most of the healthcare reform in a 5-4 vote, but kept the possibility for groups or individuals to challenge implementation of the law. In its decision in June, the Supreme Court did not address issues of employer mandate or claims of religious freedom.

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Liberty University had brought one of the first private lawsuits against the healthcare law, filing it on the very day that Obama signed the healthcare law.

In the instant case the question had come before the Supreme Court, because earlier, the 4th Circuit had held it lacked jurisdiction to consider the case as allowing it would mean violating the federal Anti-Injunction Act that bans lawsuits seeking to prevent collection of a tax.

In September 2011, the Supreme Court had declined to review the appeal raised by the university, but the university amended its petition and said that the 4th Circuit had erred in its decision on jurisdiction, so the decision should be dismissed and a new lawsuit should be allowed to proceed.

Liberty Counsel, a law firm representing the university 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.”

The case is Liberty University et al v. Geithner et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-438.

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