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Professor Tim Jost Comments on Liberty University’s Affordable Care Act Challenge

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Prof. Tim Jost

Here is a story from The Los Angeles Times in which W&L Professor Tim Jost–a leading expert on health care law–is quoted:

The Supreme Court rectified an oversight Monday and gave a Christian university in Virginia a chance to argue in a lower court two claims that were not considered in June when the justices upheld President Obama’s healthcare law.

Lawyers for Liberty University say the law violates the Constitution by requiring large employers to pay a tax if they do not provide health insurance to their full-time workers.

No one has seriously disputed that the federal government has broad power to regulate employers, and the justices did not even consider this claim earlier this year. Instead, they debated whether Congress could require an individual to buy insurance or pay a tax, the so-called individual mandate. The court upheld that requirement in a 5-4 decision.

Liberty’s lawyers also say “forced funding of abortion” under the law violates the school’s right to religious liberty. Obama administration officials say the law does not require funding of abortions, and district judges have rejected the claim.

Nonetheless, because Liberty University’s claims had not been heard or decided, the justices issued a one-paragraph order allowing the university to raise these claims before the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Last month, the Obama administration told the justices it had no objection to such an order.┬áThe high court’s move does not suggest, however, that the justices are reconsidering the issue.

“It’s a frivolous argument. Congress had regulated wages and benefits issues under the commerce clause for decades,” said Timothy Jost, a health law expert at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

Employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required, starting in 2014, to offer health insurance that meets new minimum standards of coverage.

Jost holds the Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

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