Justice Dept.: OK with new review of health law
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it does not object to reopening a Christian college's challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul.
In court papers, the Justice Department said it does not oppose allowing a 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.
A federal district judge rejected Liberty's claims, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuit was premature and never dealt with the substance of the school's arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June in a ruling that also said the appeals court was wrong not to decide the issues.
The justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law by a 5-4 vote, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty's.
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. If the justices agree, they probably would formally throw out the 4th Circuit's ruling and order it to take a new look at Liberty's case. 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 would have the option of asking 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.