The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Monday a lawsuit by Liberty University challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's, or "Obamacare's," mandate that employers with more than 50 employees provide health insurance for its employees.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver, who is representing Liberty University, said he wished the court would have taken the case, but future challenges to the employer mandate are still possible.
Liberty's challenge was based upon the argument that Congress does not have the authority to require that employers provide health insurance. The government defended its authority under the Commerce Clause (Congress has the power to "regulate commerce ... among the several states").
In a challenge to the ACA's individual mandate to purchase insurance, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress does not have the power to require individuals to carry health insurance under the Commerce Clause, but it does have the authority under Congress' taxing power. If the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the power to require individuals to purchase health insurance, then it should not give Congress the power to require employers to provide health insurance, Liberty reasoned in its arguments.
The U.S. Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit rejected that argument, ruling that the Commerce Clause has been recognized by the courts as providing Congress with the authority to regulate employee compensation.
"We find that the employer mandate is no monster," Judges Diana Gribbon Motz, Andre M. Davis and James A. Wynn Jr. wrote. "Rather, it is simply another example of Congress's longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce."
It was a challenge to that Appeals Court ruling that the Supreme Court declined to hear, so the Appeals Court ruling stands.
President Barack Obama delayed the employer mandate until 2014. If the mandate does go into effect as planned, Staver said that Liberty can bring another suit after paying a penalty for not abiding by the mandate.
There are other lower court cases that challenge the employer mandate, but, due to the delay, those challenges will also be slower making their way to the Supreme Court, according to ScotusBlog's Lyle Denniston.
Liberty also has a case pending for a suit against the ACA's birth control mandate. Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases involving the birth control mandate as it applies to for-profit companies. Staver said Liberty is looking forward to hearing what the court has to say in those cases, around June 2014. The court could strike down the birth control mandate for both non-profits and for-profits.
Liberty is a Christian university in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the late Pastor Jerry Falwell.