Liberty Universitys challenge to the health reform law will go back before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Thursday, with the school focused on getting Obamacare back before the Supreme Court.
Libertys lawsuit is the most wide ranging of the outstanding legal challenges to the health law, hitting everything from contraceptive coverage to the employer mandate.
But Thursdays oral argument wont be Libertys first trip to the 4th Circuit over Obamacare. The same court ruled in 2011 that a tax law prevented it from hearing Libertys case, including its challenge to the individual mandate, until at least 2014. But after the Supreme Court upheld the mandate last year, it told the 4th Circuit to go back and hear Libertys other claims.
Libertys lawsuit now has several points: that the employer mandate violates the Commerce Clause; that the individual and employer mandates violate the First Amendments religious protections as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and that since the individual mandates penalty was ruled a tax by the Supreme Court, the bill should have started in the House not the Senate.
The aspect of Libertys case thats gotten the most attention from other plaintiffs may be its contraceptives claim. The school says that the law is violating its right to religious freedom by requiring it to cover, through its employee health plans, birth control and drugs that it says can cause abortions. More than 50 other lawsuits have been filed throughout the country, challenging the same provision. And the issue is likely to reach the Supreme Court.
But Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Womens Law Center, says Libertys case isnt the one that will get there.
Theyll throw spaghetti at the wall, but this is not going to be decided until the regulations come out [this summer] and they become subject to this, Waxman said.
Plus, the Obama administrations lawyers say that Liberty didnt file that charge back in 2010 the contraceptive coverage rules hadnt come out yet so it cant add that to its lawsuit now.
Liberty says, though, that the regulation is merely an example of its original claim that the law would somehow skirt the long-standing prohibition on using federal funds for abortion.
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Liberty pushes Obamacare challenge