Healthcare Reform Law Challenged on Religious Grounds, Too

Article excerpt

The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan and Liberty University in Virginia, abortion foes, each filed suit challenging the new healthcare reform law. The law treats religions unequally, they say, and forces adherents to be part of a healthcare system that violates their religious beliefs on abortion.

President Obama's healthcare reform law is coming under attack by those who claim it violates the separation of church and state.

At least two lawsuits have been filed challenging the new healthcare mandate on religious grounds.

One was filed by a Michigan-based group, the Thomas More Law Center. The other was filed on behalf of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., which was founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

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Both groups oppose abortion and argue that forcing individuals to participate in a healthcare system that supports abortions violates their First Amendment right to freely follow their sincerely held religious beliefs.

In addition, both groups argue that the law empowers the national government to draw unconstitutional distinctions among and between religious groups in the US and to reward certain favored groups with exemption from the mandate. Congress wrote an exemption for religious sects opposed to the provision of public or private insurance.

Other lawsuits

Most of the attention surrounding legal challenges to the healthcare reform law has centered on arguments that Congress exceeded its authority to regulate interstate commerce and that the measure violates the 10th Amendment's protection of state sovereignty.

Those arguments form the centerpiece of lawsuits filed Tuesday by 13 attorneys general in a Florida federal court and by the Virginia attorney general in federal court in Richmond.

The Thomas More Law Center and Liberty University suits repeat those arguments. But they also challenge the law on freedom of religion grounds.

Church-state entanglement alleged

Specifically, they note that the law exempts certain "recognized" religions from compliance with the healthcare insurance mandate. …