Washington, DC—In an apparent attempt to prevent pending litigation against ObamaCare reaching the Supreme Court before the 2014 elections, President Obama issued a statement on July 3, 2013, stating that the reporting requirements for employers who employ 50 or more people were suspended until 2015. On July 5, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a letter with the federal court of appeals in Richmond, Virginia, arguing that Liberty Counsel’s case of Liberty University v. Geithner was moot and should be dismissed. On the same day, Liberty Counsel filed a rebuttal to the DOJ, pointing out that it is not moot.
On June 28, the Friday before the White House statement, the Departments of Health and Human Services and the IRS issued the final rules regarding the requirement that employers, including most religious employers, provide contraceptives, abortifacient drugs and devices, and sterilization at no cost. Then on July 3, the White House issued a statement purporting to delay the ObamaCare reporting requirements for large employers until 2015, but not for individuals. The DOJ quickly filed a letter with the court of appeals, arguing that the case of Liberty University v. Geithner should be dismissed for mootness.
Liberty Counsel immediately responded, arguing that the case is not moot for several reasons. First, the reporting delay pertains solely to the penalties imposed pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 4980H and not the additional $100 per employee per day penalty from a separate section not subject to this delay. See 26 U.S.C. § 4980D. This $100 fine increases to $2,500 if not cured within 30 days, and Liberty has no intention of providing the abortifacient mandate. The fine increases to $15,000 per employee per day if the violation is more than de minimus, which a wholesale refusal to provide abortifacients would be more than de minimus.
Second, Liberty University is the only pending case in the country that challenges the entire employer mandate and not just the HHS contraceptive-abortifacient mandate. That distinction sets this case apart from every other pending case in the country.
Third, Liberty Counsel also represents two private individuals challenging the forced payment of abortion premiums by individuals, and the individual mandate remains in effect without any reporting delays.
“The courts are trending against ObamaCare,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Our case in which Liberty Counsel represents Liberty University and two private individuals should have a ruling any day. We have been to the Supreme Court once and we are working our way back to the High Court. I have no doubt that President Obama is trying to avoid a ruling before the 2014 elections. The administration should stop playing politics with our freedom. ObamaCare is a train wreck with freedom and is hurting the country,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono legal assistance and representation on these and related topics.