Supreme Court revives challenge to President Obama's healthcare law

The Supreme Court revived a legal challenge to President Obama's healthcare law on Monday, saying a lower court can consider a challenge to the law's individual mandate.

The court — with the blessing of the Obama administration — revived a suit filed by Liberty University. When Liberty's case reached a federal appeals court, the court said it could not rule because of the Anti-Injunction Act, a federal law that bars lawsuits against new taxes before they have taken effect.

But when the Supreme Court heard its landmark healthcare case this past March, it specifically said the Anti-Injunction Act did not bar challenges to the individual mandate, which takes effect in 2014.

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So Liberty had asked the high court to send its case back to the lower court for a new hearing, since the rationale for declining to rule had been overturned. The Justice Department had signed off on the request before the justices granted Liberty's request on Monday.

The court's decision Monday is purely procedural and does not indicate that the justices believe Liberty is likely to win on the merits. The lower court will still be bound by the Supreme Court's decision upholding the healthcare law as constitutional.

Although Liberty raised the same objections as the primary challenge to the mandate, its lawsuit also argues that the healthcare law violates religious freedom by requiring the school to purchase a healthcare policy that could, indirectly, contribute to the funding of abortion.

Liberty's initial complaint said because university employees would have to comply with the individual mandate and the university would have to comply with the employer mandate, they "cannot protect their sincerely held religious beliefs against facilitating, subsidizing, easing, funding or supporting abortions."


— This story was updated at 6:11 p.m.