Liberty University Denied its Liberty

Cortney O’Brien | December 2, 2013

In 1971, Pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr. established Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., now the largest Christian University in the world. Falwell founded the school with the hopes of empowering students to “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.” The school’s colors are red, white and blue. It’s no wonder, then, that when this freedom-loving institution faced the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which would force them to provide their workers health insurance or else face a fine, they responded by launching several challenges against the provision. Now, however, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. has rejected Liberty’s arguments.

The Liberty University case that the Court chose to bypass (Liberty v. Lew,13-306) involved several challenges to the ACA that the Supreme Court either had refused to review, or had not been appealed to the Court, when the Justices two years ago ruled on the first constitutional challenges to the law. While agreeing then to review the individual mandate, it refused to review the employer mandate.

The Court in the end upheld the individual mandate under the government’s taxing power, after ruling that the provision was beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause.

In addition to challenging the ACA’s employer mandate in Liberty University v. Lew, the school also questioned the health care law’s contraception mandate, which would violate the university’s religious conscience by requiring them to provide employees abortion-inducing drugs. The court denied this challenge by stating it was raised too “late.”

The New Civil Rights Movement claims this is a “blow to religious conservatives” and criticized the school’s initial challenge.

In a shocking act of hubris, Liberty University actually challenged the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that found Obamacare is constitutional, and directly questioned the Court’s ruling that called the individual mandate a tax. In Liberty vs. Lew, the University also challenged the employer mandate, including the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

Regardless of what the New Civil Rights Movement thinks, this is not just a blow to religious conservatives, but to all lovers of liberty. Consider the effect it’s already having on businesses who are hesitant to hire over 50 workers – the point at which employers will be forced to provide their workers insurance.

Approximately 31 percent of franchise and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses said they have already reduced worker hours because of the impending law. Additionally, 27 percent of franchise and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses have already replaced full-time workers with part-time employees because of the law, the report found.

Employers should not have to feel limited by the government or worried about expanding their businesses. Last time I checked, American entrepreneurship did not have a dead end.

As for the contraception mandate, it clearly violates the very ideals upon which Liberty University was founded. The Christian college should have the freedom to embrace religious liberty and practice the tenets of their faith without government intrusion.

Finally, since when is it hubris to stick up for one’s freedom? The government, with its federal overreach, has more than enough pride to go around.

If the ACA continues on its path of obstructing freedom, Liberty may have to change its name to the past tense.