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Supreme Court resuscitates challenge to health care law

| Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, 7:14 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has revived a Christian college's challenge to President Obama's health care overhaul, with the acquiescence of the Obama administration.

The court on Monday ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that Obama's health care law violates the school's religious freedoms.

The court's action at this point means only that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals must pass judgment on issues it had declined to rule on.

A federal district judge rejected Liberty's claims, and a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit voted 2-1 that the lawsuit was premature and never dealt with the substance of the school's arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June.

The justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law by a 5-4 vote, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty's.

The school made a new filing with the court over the summer to argue that its claims should be fully evaluated in light of the high court decision. The administration said it did not oppose Liberty's request.

Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.

The court also refused to consider whether a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

The justices rejected an appeal from convicted killer John Joseph Delling of Idaho.

Delling pleaded guilty in the slayings of two college students during a trip across the West in 2007. Delling suffers from acute paranoid schizophrenia.

He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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