A federal court of appeals has ruled unanimously that the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act is a valid exercise of Congress’s constitutional power to regulate commerce. The employer mandate requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide affordable health coverage or pay a penalty. The plaintiffs argued that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not give Congress the power to force employers to purchase health insurance for their employees.
In Liberty University Inc. v. Lew, No. 10-2347 (4th Cir. July 11, 2013), the Fourth Circuit court of appeals rejected this argument. The court held that the employer mandate “is simply another example of Congress’s longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce.” The court also concluded that the employer mandate is a valid exercise of Congress’s taxing power, applying the same reasoning that the Supreme Court used to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the individual mandate last year, the Supreme Court has not yet had an opportunity to address the employer mandate. Liberty Counsel has announced that it will petition the Supreme Court to review the Fourth’s Circuit’s decision