Today the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia to hear an appeal the lower court had previously rejected in a suit filed by Liberty University of Lynchburg, Virginia, against the health insurance mandate on employers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly referred to as ObamaCare. The suit, filed on behalf of the Baptist university founded by the late evangelist Jerry Falwell, claims Congress lacks the authority to require employers to provide healthcare insurance for employees. It also challenges on religious liberty grounds the requirement that the health insurance provided for employees cover contraceptive services, including sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, free and without deduction or co-pay by the insured.
The Supreme Court at the end of June ruled against legal challenges to the law brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. In the most controversial feature of its decision, the court upheld the individual mandate, ruling that Congress has the authority under the U.S. Constitution to impose a levy on anyone not otherwise covered who does not purchase health insurance by 2014. The justices, in the 5-4 ruling, held that the payment fell under the taxing power of the Congress, though the legislation itself said the charge is a penalty, not a tax.
But the court also ruled against the government's claim that the suits were invalid under the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, a statute that forbids an injunction against a federal tax that has not yet gone into effect.
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