This looks like Religious Freedom Restoration Act day on this blog because the US Supreme Court acted today in another case involving RFRA.
Last year’s major case involving the Affordable Care Act resulted in the US Supreme Court upholding the individual mandate that requires every individual to purchase health insurance. But there is another mandate in the law called the employer mandate that requires companies that have more than 50 employees to provide affordable health care to their employees. That was not part of last year’s case.
Liberty University, the religious institution founded by the late Jerry Falwell, sued to block the employer mandate saying that it infringed on their religious freedom, the new favorite argument of religious people. They lost in the lower courts but appealed to the US Supreme Court.
The Court in the end [last year] upheld the individual mandate under the government’s taxing power, after ruling that the provision was beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. Liberty University, besides seeking to contest the employer mandate under the Commerce Clause, also sought review of its constitutionality under the taxing clause. The University’s petition also contended that the individual mandate violated the religious freedom of the school and of its employees, under the Constitution’s First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Today the court refused to accept the case, meaning that Liberty University is out of luck and they have to comply with the law.
We cannot draw too much of an inference from the Supreme Court’s rejection of this case. It may not mean that they think that religious groups are over-reaching on RFRA and the Free Exercise clause. It may simply be that they felt that the cases they had already decided to review were sufficient to judge the extent of RFRA and the First Amendment with respect to the ACA.