Liberty University filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, becoming the latest in a number of groups that are challenging the legality of the health care reform act signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.
The Lynchburg, Va.-based Christian university appealed to the high court after judges from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has commonly been referred to simply as “ObamaCare.”
The three-member panel of judges from the 4th Circuit voted two-to-one in favor of upholding the health care law on Sept. 8. One judge, James Wynn Jr., called the federal health care mandate a “tax” and said that, due to the Anti-Injunction Act, judges would not be able to rule on the issue until 2014 when the law goes into effect.
According to Liberty Counsel, the nonprofit organization representing the university in the suit, the 4th Circuit is the only court so far to label the health care mandate a “tax” and not a “penalty.” The petition they filed with the Supreme Court highlights how the ruling conflicts with those from the 5th, 6th and 11th circuits in other similar cases.
Nevertheless, the group is moving forward and expects that a Supreme Court ruling will be reached on the issue by the end of June 2012.
“This challenge to ObamaCare is entering the final phase, and its ultimate fate will be decided at the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
“This novel and unprecedented law has caused confusion among the courts and has stymied the economy, because employers will not hire when the future of health care costs remains uncertain. ObamaCare is an unprecedented expansion of the federal government’s power to micromanage personal choices. Its end will be welcomed by many.”
Liberty University's lawsuit is unique because in addition to challenging the individual mandate – the government requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance – their suit also challenges the legality of the government's mandate requiring employers to provide workers with coverage.
Because of its challenge to the employer mandate, the counsel for Liberty University expects its suit to be among those heard by the Supreme Court regarding health care reform. They anticipate that the high court will also hear a Florida case involving 26 different states that also wish to challenge the law.
Liberty University was founded by the late Jerry Falwell in 1971 and today is the world's largest Christian university. Liberty Counsel has offices on the campus of Liberty University School of Law and has been working to advance “religious freedom, the sanctity of life and the family” since its creation in 1989.