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In Blow To Religious Conservatives, SCOTUS Refuses To Hear Obamacare Lawsuit

by David Badash on December 2, 2013

in News,Religion

Post image for In Blow To Religious Conservatives, SCOTUS Refuses To Hear Obamacare Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court just announced it will not hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act filed by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. In a shocking act of hubris, Liberty University actually challenged the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that found Obamacare is constitutional, and directly questioned the Court’s ruling that called the individual mandate a tax. In Liberty vs. Lew, the University also challenged the employer mandate, including the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

When the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a portion of DOMA this year, Liberty University had some strong word for the Court, claiming it “has lost its legitimacy as an arbiter of the Constitution and the rule of law, and adding, “Today is the death of the Court’s legacy, because the decision in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act case defies logic and is a pure invention of a handful of Justices.”

SCOTUS Blog reports on today’s decision to ignore Liberty University’s case.

The Liberty University case that the Court chose to bypass (Liberty v. Lew, 13-306) involved several challenges to the ACA that the Supreme Court either had refused to review, or had not been appealed to the Court, when the Justices two years ago ruled on the first constitutional challenges to the law.

While agreeing then to review the individual mandate, it refused to review the employer mandate.

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, and its close affiliate, Liberty Counsel, are, of course, two of the most anti-gay activist organizations in the country. Both are home to the infamous Matt Barber, who says Christians love gay people — who are going to hell, and whose Twitter account is often filled with attacks on the LGBT community.


In February, Barber penned an open letter to LGBT teens: “you are not gay.”

Last year, Barber called President Barack Obama “a white-hating, communist, Black Nationalist,” and said that “Obama’s fake ebonics accent is as creepy as any of his hateful race-baiting.” He also told “post-abortive” women they have “blood-covered hands” and the “stench of death.”


Image of the Supreme Court by Jan Seifert via Flickr

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bndkllr2 December 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

I watched an astonishing interview with Rick Santorum Sunday morning in which he claimed that making an employer cover contraception was a "violation of religious freedom." He cleverly framed the issue as "going both ways," since religious folks shouldn't have to "check their religion at the door of their church. I wanted to punch my television set! The interviewer SHOULD have asked Rick a simple question and demand a yes or no answer: Should an employee need their employer's permission to use contraception???? I think the answer in most people's minds is an overwhelming NO. Because this is not about Rick's "religious freedom." It is about giving special privilidge to one person's religion over another. If this truly is about religious freedom, then perhaps he can explain why an employer should have to cover blood transfusions if they are Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in blood transfusions. How far should we take this religious freedom stuff?????

2229 December 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

Rick baby is the original Frothy Mixture, and fortunately for America, the whole Teapublican Party is one big Frothy Mixture.
Good job, Rick. Thanks for making Teas witlessly irrelevant.

Mykelbarber December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Guess they will reject Hobby Lobby's suit as well since it was on the same issue.

weshlovrcm December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Why are paid anti-gay activists such angry, bitter, miserable people?

2229 December 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

I'm surprised a piece of garbage like Barber is still alive. Must hide out, with that stupid mouth.

5ilenceDoGood December 3, 2013 at 8:02 am

A look at the cost structure of the ACA, for those who are interested. Good luck.

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