Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Christian University Becomes First Private Organization To Challenge Healthcare Bill

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 28, 2010

Just hours after President Obama signed the Democrats healthcare legislation into law, Liberty University is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the bill – making the world’s largest Christian university the first private organization to pursue legal opposition to the bill.

The complaint, filed by Liberty Council, names as defendants the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, in their official capacities overseeing the enormous government expansion in health care regulations.

“We here at Liberty believe that the healthcare bill that was signed into law this week is an attack on our freedoms and our liberties that our founders fought and died to secure,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., the Chancellor and CEO of Liberty University (LU) during a convocation Wednesday. “This university is named Liberty for a reason. We believe in defending the liberties that are guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Liberty University was founded in 1971 by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., with his vision to train young “Champions for Christ.” Today, LU has more than 58,000 students in its residence and online program. The university employs over 5,100 people and is self-insured, offering quality health insurance and health savings accounts to its employees. However, as a result of being self-insured, the Democrats healthcare measure Liberty says they will now be forced to pay a fee for each covered “life” (i.e. employees, spouses and dependents), and the university will face many other costly, and unnecessary regulations.

Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, cited several reasons for Liberty University’s decision to pursue a legal action against the healthcare bill signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday.

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, told the students during the convocation that there are several additional reasons for Liberty’s decision to pursue a legal action against the bill.

“Forcing health insurance on every person and employer is a stunning example of arbitrary power the Constitution does not give to federal bureaucrats,” said Staver. “In passing this law, President Obama and the Democratic Congress acted like the Constitution does not exist. But one day, the Supreme Court Justices will have their own captive audience and this brazen illegal power grab will come to an end.”

“There has never been another time in American history where federal government bureaucrats have told you that you must buy a particular product, let alone a particular insurance product,” said Staver. “We believe that this legislation is unconstitutional.”

Staver further noted the healthcare measure will penalize the university — a private, non-profit organization — for each staff and faculty member along with their spouses and dependents covered under the university’s insurance plan. Such fees will increase the cost of insurance, which will in turn affect faculty, staff and students in many ways, including the possible reduction of student workers the university will be able to employ.

The school is also concerned about the impact of another pending piece of legislation, “the reconciliation bill”, which will give the federal government control over the student loan industry.

“You will pay 17 or 18 hundred dollars more per year, per student, and they are going to use that to finance this healthcare bill,” said Falwell. “So [the healthcare reform bill] will be paid for on the back of students.”

The complaint seeks to stop the government from: “implementing and enforcing the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009.”  The suit specifically seeks to halt the “mandatory health insurance for individuals, mandatory provision of health insurance by employers, payment of penalties for failure to obtain and maintain health insurance, insurance exchange policies that are otherwise suitable but for requiring payment for elective abortion coverage, and other provisions.”

The suit also asks the court to find “certain provisions of the Act, requiring mandated insurance coverage by employers, fines, and allowing religious exemptions for only members of recognized religious denominations,” unconstitutional and “a violation of the the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

In a press release, Liberty Council notes that:

Congress lacks authority to force individuals and private employers to buy or provide health insurance and such law violates the Free Exercise Clause and Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing the plaintiffs to subsidize abortion, the Free Speech and Association Clause by forcing plaintiffs to support and associate with private companies that cover abortion, the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses by preferring only ‘recognized’ religions for opt out purposes, the prohibition on unapportioned capitation or direct tax because the tax penalty on uninsured persons is not apportioned among the states according to census data and is directed to private third parties, and finally that Congress is prohibited by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 from using reconciliation to affect Social Security benefits.

Additionally, Staver contends that in spite of executive amendments to the legislation, the healthcare reform funds abortion.

 “Make no mistake about it; the so-called executive order does not take away the funding of abortion,” said Staver. “The president’s executive order will not be worth the paper it’s written on, so you and every other American will directly fund abortion under the healthcare bill.”

 Staver said Liberty is taking the lead on this lawsuit because of the Chancellor’s commitment to the protection of individual rights according to the United States Constitution.

 “Liberty’s became the first private lawsuit in the nation … sending the message that Liberty University will stand for its name of Liberty, will stand for its students, will stand for freedom, and Liberty intends to make sure that this law is ruled unconstitutional.”

 Falwell closed the convocation by encouraging students to register to vote in local elections in the coming days and influence local government decisions.

 “At least on the local level you all can make the difference to make sure similar things don’t happen.”

 Courtesy of Christian Law Journal at http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/christian-university-becomes-first-private-organization-to-challenge-healthcare-bill/

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