States, attorneys general and individuals have filed a myriad of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed its suit in Washington D.C. Like the other suits it alleges that Congress overstepped its authority when it included a mandate in the law which requires all individuals to purchase health insurance.
The majority of suits focus on the mandate as a violation of the Commerce Clause.
An allegation that law violates religious freedom
The lawsuit filed by the ACLJ has some unusual allegations. Citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, this suit alleges that forcing an individual to purchase health insurance, especially when financial penalties are attached, is a violation of the plaintiffs’ religious freedom.
The suit alleges that individuals would be forced to join a health insurance plan that contradicts the basic tenets of their religion. The plaintiffs allege that they believe that God will protect them from illness and injury and therefore do not need nor should they be forced to buy health insurance.
Plaintiffs go on to allege that forcing them to buy health insurance conflicts with the plaintiffs’ personal religious beliefs. Plaintiffs believe that should they be forced to buy health insurance they would be signaling that they might not be really sure that God will provide for their needs.
Read the full complaint here
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) was signed into law by Bill Clinton. In 1997 the Supreme Court found the Act to be unconstitutional when applied to state or local government.
However, the constitutionality of the RFRA was upheld as it applied to the federal government and this ruling was confirmed on February 21, 2006 by the Supreme Court.
This lawsuit requests that the Court
- declare the individual mandate provision to be unconstitutional,
- affirm that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the rights of three of the plaintiffs have been violated and
issue a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the individual mandate provision.
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