It feels a bit like deja vu all over again. The Supreme Court has ordered an appeals court to reopen arguments on the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and contraceptive coverage provisions, opening a potential path back to the highest court by late 2013.
The case at hand is one filed Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia. The university had filed one of the earlier suits against the health care law, which was among the dozens dismissed by the Supreme Court when it ruled the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to be constitutional.
The Liberty University case also is unique in that it was the only one where the appeals court decided it couldn’t even make a ruling, given that the provisions it was supposed to rule on hadn’t come into effect. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act precluded any rulings about the mandate’s constitutionality before the mandate actually took effect and individuals began paying penalties.
The Supreme Court sided against that viewpoint. In its decision, the justices said that it was within the court’s power to rule on the health law now. That leaves Liberty wanting some answers on the provisions it challenged in court. The Obama administration also agreed that these issues should go back to the Fourth Circuit. Other courts are already hearing new challenges to the health care law, too.
Liberty University doesn’t want to challenge the individual mandate as a tax; we already know what the Supreme Court thinks about that. But it does want are answers whether the individual and employer mandates in the law violate religious freedoms, by forcing Americans to pay for abortions…