A federal appeals court has rejected a Virginia college’s challenge to key mandates in President Obama’s health care law.
Liberty University, a Christian institution founded by the late pastor Jerry Falwell, challenged the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance; the contraception mandate requiring employers to insure FDA-approved forms of birth control; and a mandate requiring employers of 50 or more workers to provide adequate insurance or pay fines.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss their suit.
In their opinion, the appellate judges noted the Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate as permissible under Congress’ taxing authority, and that the employer mandate regulates interstate commerce and existing economic activity.
“For the reasons set forth within, we find that the employer mandate is no monster; rather, it is simply another example of Congress’s longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce,” the court wrote.
The White House caused a political stir July 2 when it decided to put off the employer mandate by one year, to 2015, because of its complex reporting requirements.
Federal attorneys said the delay furthered their argument that Liberty had no standing to sue over the mandate. The court disagreed, noting “Liberty must take measures to ensure compliance in advance of that date.”
The court declined to take on Liberty’s challenge to the contraception mandate, citing procedural problems.
For its part, the university’s lawyers focused on the positive aspects of the ruling.
“Liberty Counsel is encouraged that the court reached the merits on the employer mandate, even though the court got it wrong, because this clears the way for the case to now go to the Supreme Court,” they said in a statement.