Hours after the University of Notre Dame filed a religious challenge to the U.S. health care overhaul in Indiana federal court, a judge in Washington heard arguments in a lawsuit assailing tax provisions of the statute.
The cases underscore the persistent and diverse nature of legal attacks on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act even as the Obama administration struggles to fix bugs in healthcare.gov, the online marketplace for health insurance the measure created.
Obamacare litigation continues partly because questions about its legitimacy as a piece of partisan legislation are unresolved, said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington and an opponent of the act. The statute passed Congress without Republican support in either the House or Senate.
It doesn’t matter what motivates the plaintiffs bringing those challenges as long as “their legal arguments are sound, because that’s what the courts are looking at,” Shapiro said.
The suit in Washington, in which a federal judge last week heard arguments seeking an immediate verdict, was brought by seven individuals and businesses from six states. At least three similar complaints have been filed in Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana. All challenge some of the federal government’s authority to offer tax credits to subsidize health insurance for poor people under Obamacare.
The complaint Notre Dame brought last week, alleging that the law’s requirement that health plans cover birth control violates Roman Catholic teaching, is a refiling of a lawsuit dismissed in December on procedural grounds.
The obligation that insurance cover contraception “would require that Notre Dame commit scandal, which in Catholic theology is defined as leading by words or example others to engage in wrongdoing,” lawyers for the university wrote.