By Tim Peacock
Dismissing the case without comment, the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments on Liberty University v. Lew (13-306) that sought to overturn the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate. Their rejection of the case means the lower federal appeals court decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, VA (that dismissed Liberty University's case) will stand. During their lower court arguments, Liberty University argued against the employer mandate stating it was unconstitutional to fine employers who did not wish to participate in Obamacare. Writing for SCOTUSBlog, Lyle Denniston discussed the rejection when he said:
The Court in the end upheld the individual mandate under the government’s taxing power, after ruling that the provision was beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. Liberty University, besides seeking to contest the employer mandate under the Commerce Clause, also sought review of its constitutionality under the taxing clause. The University’s petition also contended that the individual mandate violated the religious freedom of the school and of its employees, under the Constitution’s First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In a belated move in its case, Liberty also attempted to challenge the ACA’s contraception mandate on employers, but the Fourth Circuit Court had found that issue was raised too late and it did not decide it. Last week, the Court agreed to rule on the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate in two new cases.
Liberty University was one of the first to go to court to protest the new health care law. It sought Supreme Court review earlier, but the Justices also declined to hear that case, although they did agree to allow Liberty to return to the Fourth Circuit to press its claims. That further review by the Circuit Court, rejecting all of Liberty’s challenges, is what the Justices refused to disturb on Monday.
Although the ACA’s employer mandate — which applies to all employers with 50 or more workers and that provide health coverage — has now survived two attempts to challenge it in the Supreme Court, there remain other challenges to it that are working their way through lower courts. The employer mandate was scheduled to take effect this year, but has been postponed until 2014 to give employers more time to adjust to it.
The Court's decision to reject this case follows their recent announcement they they'll hear arguments next year on the ACA HHS contraceptive requirement.