Lynchburg, VA – Liberty University’s challenge to the healthcare law will now be heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals following today’s ruling by District Court Judge Norman Moon. Judge Moon found that Liberty University and two individual plaintiffs had standing to assert their constitutional claims against the individual and employer mandates in the healthcare law and that their claims were ripe for consideration. Judge Moon also held that the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits taxpayers from trying to enjoin the collection of taxes, does not bar the claims. He then ruled on the merits of the substantive claims, finding that Congress acted within its authority under the Commerce Clause when it enacted the mandates in the healthcare law.
That dismissal on the merits tees up the Commerce Clause challenge, along with other constitutional challenges based upon the First Amendment and a challenge under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), for an immediate appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Liberty Counsel, which represents the plaintiffs in the suit, will be filing the appeal immediately. This will bring to the forefront the core constitutional issue in the case–whether Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause includes mandating that individuals and employers be compelled to purchase government approved health insurance under threat of monetary penalty.
Judge Moon’s ruling on the Commerce Clause claim contradicts decisions from courts in Richmond, Virginia, and Pensacola, Florida, which have denied similar motions to dismiss lawsuits against the healthcare bill. Those cases were not dismissed and are still pending in the district courts. The ruling by Judge Moon now allows Liberty University’s law suit to be the first case to reach the court of appeals on the substantive law issue.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law said: “I am confident that the federal healthcare law will eventually be struck down on appeal because it is unconstitutional. Congress does not have the authority to force every American to purchase a particular kind of health insurance product. I am pleased the federal court found that Liberty University and the private plaintiffs have standing to pursue this claim. The court’s ruling on the merits of the Commerce Clause, while wrong now, puts the case on a fast track to the federal court of appeals. This ruling will expedite a final resolution of the case.”