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  • Some Obamacare Legal Challenges Are Alive and Well

    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court, in granting a petition for rehearing in Liberty University v. Geitner, vacated the U.S. Fourth Circuit’s prior dismissal of Liberty’s challenge to Obamacare and directed the Fourth Circuit to reconsider its decision in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012).

    The Fourth Circuit had dismissed Liberty’s lawsuit as not ripe for adjudication pursuant to the Anti-Injunction Act, which provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.”

    In essence, the Fourth Circuit held that Liberty’s challenge was premature because the tax in question had not taken effect and that Liberty could not assert its claims until that happened. The Supreme Court rejected this rationale in NFIB, holding that the individual mandate was not a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act (contrary to what the Fourth Circuit had held) but that it could be considered a tax for purposes of determining whether Congress’s power had properly exercised its authority under the Taxing Clause of Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution.

    Having rejected the Fourth Circuit’s reason for not ruling on the merits, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit so that it could take whatever action is appropriate in light of the NFIB decision. This is something that the Supreme Court does routinely whenever it issues a decision that could affect the analysis of a previously issued lower court decision, and this action should not be taken as a sign that the Supreme Court is reconsidering the merits of the claims it addressed in NFIB.

    Thus, on Liberty’s claims that were like those heard last spring, the Fourth Circuit would be bound by the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss them on the merits. However, Liberty brought other claims that have not yet been heard by the Supreme Court, including that the individual mandate and the employer mandate violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Others are also challenging the Department of Health and Human Services’ anti-conscience mandate in dozens of lawsuits that are now pending in courts throughout the country, the merits of which were addressed in a prior Heritage Legal Memorandum.

    These claims that the Supreme Court has not yet addressed are alive and well. Furthermore, the lower courts do not have to wait for the tax to take effect before considering the merits of those challenges.

    These issues will ultimately wend their way through the courts back up to the Supreme Court for its consideration.

    Posted in Featured, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Some Obamacare Legal Challenges Are Alive and Well

    1. emanuelmccray says:

      Can someone answer me this: If Congress is without Power to mandate the individual purchase a good or service, could it enact a law suggesting it is O.K. for an employer to demand its employees purchase a good or service? Stated differently, could Congress authorize an employer to require his or her employees purchase health insurance as a condition of employment.

    2. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      This article almost made me think Roberts was being clever with his opinion upholding Obamacare based on the taxing clause. He had to know the 4th circuit had ruled on this tax issue before issuing his own ruling and that Obamacare would once again be heard in his court.

      Even if this was one of his subtle intentions, this law will be so dug-in by the time he sees it again that it would be more difficult to unravel it.

      Why did he not just make the simple call and rule it unconstitutional like his four smart buddies did when they first had the chance?

    3. R. Fettig says:

      I suspected Roberts was up to something like this scenario when I heard his decision. I have been on tenterhooks since that time. I am holding my breath on this one. I realize that the current healthcare situation is not good, to put it mildly. Hopefully minds greater than mine will solve this – there is definitely a more "user friendly" solution than what is being presented. Obama care is like using a sledge-hammer as a fly swatter.

    4. "Boots" says:

      We the American people must bombard the White House / Supreme Courts, not to be intimidated by big [sic] "O" It seems "O" is circumventing the Democratic process every-which he desires. Hold Congress, Supreme Court responsible according to the Constitution. Period! STOP THE POLITICAL ARM TWISTING, in Washington.

    5. jacktar2001 says:

      A nurse friend commented, that certain peoples are already here, and that they are going to get healthcare one way or another. So, she said that she completely supported Obamacare, as it will cover everyone–including those who will get healthcare one way or another. Further, some States of the Union, are simply broke when it comes to their Medicaid programs. Thus, the federal government must help, or the population will become more unhealthy–which is a type of national security issue.

    6. @dboyerdr says:

      Obama has always been pro-abortion and with the help of Pelosi & Reid he has devised the biggest abortion you can imagine, its called Obamacare. There is a deludge of stuff in Obamacare that has nothing to do with health nor medicine. Best example is that there are no more private student loans. These can be obtained only from the government now.. Also the government can confiscate your gold like FDR did in the 1930s. Obamacare is about complete control of 1/6th of America's economy. Obama wants to control your life from birth to the grave.. Obamacae was formulated behind closed doors and not in the open as promised, then it was enacted & shoved down our throats. Nobody had even read the bill!!

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