A Christian university’s lawsuit against the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act may go to the Supreme Court, following a ruling against the university by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Liberty University, a Christian university in Virginia founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, challenged Obamacare on several fronts including the constitutionality of the employer mandate, the infringement of religious liberty, and the heavy fines employers would be forced to pay. But the court shot down the lawsuit with a 3-0 decision.
“We find that the employer mandate is no monster,” the judges wrote in their decision. “Rather, it is simply another example of Congress’s longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce.”
While the court did not take on the aspect of religious liberty and the HHS mandate, rather choosing to dismiss it on procedural grounds, the opinion clearly took on the free exercise clause saying, “The Free Exercise Clause provides that ‘Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion... However, the Clause does not compel Congress to exempt religious practices from a ‘valid and neutral law of general applicability.’ This is so even if such a law ‘has the incidental effect of burdening a particular religious practice.’”
All three judges were nominated to the bench by Democrat presidents; one by President Bill Clinton and the other two by President Barack Obama.
Already, Mathew Staver, the dean of Liberty's law school, told Reuters that the Christian university intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
"It goes against the principle that the Supreme Court laid down that Congress cannot force individuals to buy an unwanted product," he reportedly said. "We believe the same principle applies to employers. If we win on the employer mandate, then the mandate would be gone for religious and non-religious employers."
This decision is not calamitous to the cause of religious liberty. According to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, there are currently 62 cases and over 200 plaintiffs suing over the HHS mandate, including many Catholic and Christian colleges.
Emily Hardman of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty told The Cardinal Newman Society “there’s no need to hit the panic button.”
She pointed to the 10th Circuit Court’s en banc decision which found in favor of Hobby Lobby and explained in detail why the mandate does indeed breach religious liberty.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.