Does the individual and employer mandate in Obamacare violate religious freedoms by forcing Americans to pay for abortions? On November the Supreme Court ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reopen arguments in the case filed by Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia, opening the door to a new challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
The university filed one of the earliest suits against the health care law, but it was dismissed by the appeals court because the provision the court was asked to rule on had not yet taken effect.
The Anti-Injunction Act precluded any ruling about the mandate’s constitutionality before the mandate took effect and individuals began paying penalties. Since then, the Supreme Court has ruled that the individual mandate is constitutional because it is not considered a tax.
Other courts are already hearing new challenges to the health care law as well.
Health policy experts don’t consider the employer mandate as crucial to the health law’s success as the individual mandate because a majority of employers already offer insurance coverage without a mandate.
And if the mandate fails, workers could get their own insurance in an insurance exchange at competitive prices, some even with subsidies. The court can find protection for employers under freedom of religion and let the individual mandate stand.
Oral arguments in the Liberty University’s case could happen as soon as spring 2013. "And that could lay the foundation for a repeat performance in front of the Supreme Court late next year – just before the major parts of the health care law are expected to kick into gear,” says The Washington Post.