For the Obama administration, defending the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, looks like it may be becoming a game of legal whack-a-mole. One mandate gets declared constitutional, only to have another potentially problematic one spring up.
In this case, the mandate that's involved is the mandate that employers provide contraception coverage for their employees. That mandate, released long before the first decision declared Obamacare's mandate legal as a tax, has sparked more than a little resistance from the Catholic Church. And now, it has a lawsuit pending from one small but tenacious Baptist liberal arts college. From Fox News' Todd Starnes:
The president of Louisiana College said his school’s lawsuit against ObamaCare will go forward and vowed to defy the law even if the courts rule in favor of the Obama administration.
“If the government continues to say that we have to do this, we will not do it,” President Joe Aguillard told Fox News. “There’s going to be, in my opinion, a constitutional crisis. We’re not going to do it.”
Louisiana College, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, filed suit against the federal government in February. They believe the administration’s mandate that religious employers provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception is unconstitutional.[...]
Aguillard said even if the courts rule against the college, there is no way they will comply with the law.
“I guess President Obama will have to come down to Louisiana College with whatever means they want to stop us,” he said. “We are going to have, as we say in French, a tete-a-tete.”
Aguillard said the battle with the federal government has united the 106-year-old college.
“They can’t imprison all of us,” he said. “They can’t fight all of us. We are greater than the Dept. of Justice.”
Louisiana College is not the only school to have done this. The evangelical Wheaton College has joined a similar lawsuit.
So would an entire college refusing to comply with the Federal government be, as Aguillard suggests, a constitutional crisis? Probably not, largely because constitutional crises tend to involve particular branches of government taking each other on, rather than private entities taking the government on. However, it would be a law enforcement crisis, and would probably produce highly damaging optics for the government. We can only imagine the kind of lurid coverage one could get out of seeing random college administrators being shoved into vans. However, based on previous precedent, it would be more likely to force the administration to issue waivers for the contraception mandate, not retract it for everyone.
Still, it's an encouraging story for those who support religious freedom in this country.