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HHS Mandate One Step Closer to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to examine the constitutionality of the controversial birth control mandate, a step that could open the door for a high court review of the law as early as next year.

According to Politico, the next round of court action on ObamaCare will likely concern the law's employer mandate and the contraceptive coverage mandate, both of which were not addressed by the court's ruling earlier this summer.

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to a request from Liberty University, one of the groups that sued over the health care reform law in 2010, to revisit certain issues that were not specifically addressed in their suit which was dismissed after the June ruling on ObamaCare.

The case will now revert to the Fourth Circuit which has a tradition of moving quickly on cases. Oral arguments could occur as early as next spring.

Liberty University is arguing that the law’s employer coverage provisions — which will require businesses with more than 50 full-time workers to provide health insurance for their workers or face fines — are unconstitutional because Congress overstepped its power by setting those rules.

It also claims that the individual and employer mandates violate the Constitution's right to a free exercise of religion because the employer mandate requires contraception coverage and the individual mandate requires individuals to pay for abortion coverage.

“I am very pleased with the High Court’s ruling. Today’s ruling breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare. Our fight against ObamaCare is far from over,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law.

“Congress exceeded its power by forcing every employer to provide federally mandated insurance. But even more shocking is the abortion mandate, which collides with religious freedom and the rights of conscience,” Staver said.

If the Fourth Circuit rules against Liberty, which many experts believe it will, this gives the University the opportunity to take their arguments to the Supreme Court.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told Politico that if the Supreme Court ultimately sided with Liberty, the ruling could damage the law even though most of its central provisions have been upheld.

“I think the employer mandate is important because I think there would be many employers who would not be subject to the act, and that’s a pretty critical provision of the act,” Tobias said. By contrast, he said, the loss of the contraceptive coverage requirement would be less damaging. It’s “important to many people,” he said, but it doesn’t actually affect most people’s coverage — it’s not a “linchpin of the act.”

Liberty University’s lawyers have said that if they’re successful, the Supreme Court could hear arguments in the case sometime in late 2013.

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