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Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to health care employer mandate

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday refused to hear [order list PDF] a challenge [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] by Liberty University [official website] to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] mandate requiring employers to provide affordable health insurance for their employees. The university sought review of the employer mandate's constitutionality under the government's taxing power, arguing that the requirement is a violation of religious freedom under the First Amendment [Cornell LII materials] and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text]. The Supreme Court refused to disturb the ruling [text, PDF] made by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website]. This marks the second time in two years the the Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by Liberty University against the PPACA.

Liberty University's challenge is one of the latest developments concerning the controversial PPACA. In June the US Department of Treasury (DOT) [official website] announced that it will delay enforcing [JURIST report] the PPACA employer mandate for businesses with 50 or more full-time employees until 2015. A week before, the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled that Hobby Lobby [corporate website] may challenge the mandate to provide employees with coverage for contraceptives under the PPACA. The court found [JURIST report] that the company sufficiently established a likelihood of success in showing that their rights are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement and that they have established an irreparable harm. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the "individual mandate" provision [text] of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, did not violate the Constitution [JURIST report]. The PPACA was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama in March of 2010. It was passed by the US House of Representatives and approved [JURIST reports] by the US Senate months earlier.

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