Supreme Court revives challenge to ObamaCare on religious-liberty grounds

posted at 10:31 am on November 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

A decision by the Supreme Court this morning opens up a potential new avenue of attack against ObamaCare on the grounds of religious liberty — and not just the HHS contraception mandate.  The court overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Liberty University over the health-system overhaul, in a move that was not opposed by the Obama administration in court:

The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college’s challenge to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration.

The court on Monday ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that Obama’s health care law violates the school’s religious freedoms. …

The school made a new filing with the court over the summer to argue that its claims should be fully evaluated in light of the high court decision. The administration said it did not oppose Liberty’s request.

Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.

The appeals court could ask the government and the college for new legal briefs to assess the effect of the Supreme Court ruling on Liberty’s claims before rendering a decision.

Why didn’t the White House oppose LU’s motion?  The timing issue is now largely moot, thanks to that 5-4 decision that upheld the individual mandate as a tax.  The lawsuit would have been refiled shortly in any case, which would have only provided a slight delay to the inevitable.

This lawsuit differs from the previous cases used by the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the law.  None of the earlier plaintiffs brought up the religious-liberty issue, in large part because HHS hadn’t formulated its arrogant posture that the government can define religious expression.  With the HHS contraception mandate now in place, the violation of the First Amendment has now become concrete, and the courts will soon have to decide just how to square the language that that clearly stipulates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” with the HHS regulation that attempts to restrict religious exercise to only within the walls of a church, synagogue, or temple.

Getting that addressed sooner is a victory in the short run for everyone.  Let’s hope that the appeals courts and the Supreme Court recognize the violation sooner rather than later, too, before the Obama administration forces religious organizations to close doors on hospitals, clinics, charities, and schools.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


When is the next Mayflower leaving?

portlandon on November 26, 2012 at 11:13 AM

No kidding. I hope those dang rovers find fuel and water on Mars.

bitsy on November 26, 2012 at 3:15 PM

I’m sure everyone knows the “greater good” and/or welfare of the nation is much more important than that whole religious liberty thingie. Right?

I suspect Roberts will find religious beliefs aren’t based on religion or something equally asinine.

ButterflyDragon on November 26, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Obama’s team is actually in a worse position from an appellate perspective in this particular case because they lost in the District Court in a summary judgment. Liberty University was arguing that a tax which violates the Establishment Clause (because it exempts certain religious groups like Muslims and Amish etc.) is easier to strike down because the burden on Congress is much higher than a mere Commerce Clause case. I have believed this to be the stronger argument against ObamaCare from the time that it initially went on appeal. We will see I guess.

txmomof6 on November 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Better to abandon all hope ye who enter the United Socialist Republic.

Sherman1864 on November 26, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Obama doesn’t care if the contraception mandate is overturned. It was all about motivating single women to come out in droves and vote for him. Now that he’s been re-elected, it’s moot.

ardenenoch on November 26, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Hey, let’s take the Jamie Foxx thang a bit further …..


pambi on November 26, 2012 at 7:49 PM

…so what excuse will Roberts have this time?

KOOLAID2 on November 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM

When is the next Mayflower leaving?

portlandon on November 26, 2012 at 11:13 AM

No kidding. I hope those dang rovers find fuel and water on Mars.

bitsy on November 26, 2012 at 3:15 PM

I’ve heard that another big problem is the Martian surface dust would be one hell of a maintenance headache. But yeah, we need extraterrestrial Mayflowers and we need them now.

MelonCollie on November 26, 2012 at 11:35 PM

I suspect Just-Us Benedict Roberts is banking (pun intended) on pulling a shady passage from the Koran which supersedes the Constitution… at least once the, er, incentive check to do so clears.

Then he will fly off to Italy again to spend it.

viking01 on November 26, 2012 at 11:54 PM

Ya know, I didn’t even read the OP of this thread. Just read the title. But, does it even matter anymore? I mean, Roberts became a traitor to the constitution on June 28, when the original ruling was handed down. Does it really matter now if we get some watered down afterthought to some backdoor judicial argument won? Really? Will it undo the damage of June 28? NO. So, who f***** cares?

Mudhog on November 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM

I expect a narrow ruling against Obamacare, but only on that one single point of contraceptives that are abortifacients. Leaving the bulk of Obamacare squatting on our backs triumphantly as the oversized toad it is.

There Goes The Neighborhood on November 27, 2012 at 1:39 AM

Snort…Roberts or Kennedy or both will just Fluke us and the constitution again.

bluesdoc70 on November 27, 2012 at 8:20 AM

Anyone who thinks SCOTUS will defend our religious liberties hasn’t been paying attention.

Kakalak Pundit on November 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Let them stand in line at the government hospital while you get yours at the pay to play outfit. They wanted it, they voted for it, now let them eat urinal cakes.

swmontgo on November 26, 2012 at 11:09 AM


Nutstuyu on November 27, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Why aren’t the Republicans SCREAMING to every microphone that they will abide by the new Obamacare and so must every Democrat Congressman who voted for it? They need to be SCREAMING about the CONSTITUTION which REQUIRES these elite to abide by the same rules as us lowly peasants: Amendment 28
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States .

Decoski on November 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

After the pro-Obamacare vote by Roberts, I have wondered if Obama may have some dirt on John Roberts that influenced his decision. I don’t have any faith in him on making a stand against Obamacare now.

la.rt.wngr on November 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM

John Roberts is a coward, and Obama knows it. That is why his administration did not oppose the court’s ruling. All Obama has to do for SCOTUS to rule his way is make faces at Roberts and threaten to say something mean about him to the American people.

Freedom and liberty in America has become a farce.

DRayRaven on November 28, 2012 at 7:31 AM

On it’s face it sounds like we have a decent case. Hell, there’s a far better rational case here than Roe v Wade was. However, if the government can’t compel you to pay for things you religiously oppose, that would mean federal funding for stem cell research, contraception, … were illegal, and unfortunately our side of the court doesn’t make sweeping rulings like that.

Damn you Roberts.

netster007x on November 28, 2012 at 11:06 PM