A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide adequate health insurance for those employees or pay a penalty to the government.
The panel’s unanimous decision — by judges Diana Gribbon Motz, Andre M. Davis, and James A. Wynn, Jr. — was the first major ruling on the employer mandate’s constitutionality since the Supreme Court last year upheld the individual mandate of the 2010 law. It comes just nine days after the federal government delayed implementation of the employer mandate until January 1, 2015.
Last year, in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate under Congress’s taxing power, but five of the Justices said that Congress could not pass that part of the law under its Commerce Clause powers. In Liberty University v. Lew (Treasury Secretary), though, the Fourth Circuit based its decision in favor of the employer mandate directly on those powers.
“We find that the employer mandate is no monster; rather, it is simply another example of Congress’s longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce,” the judges wrote.
Liberty University has the option of asking the full court to hear the case en banc, or seeking review at the Supreme Court.