The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for Liberty University to challenge the federal healthcare law on religious grounds in a lower appellate court. 

The justices, as expected, vacated and remanded to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that court’s ruling that the Anti-Injunction Act barred the university from challenging the individual mandate to purchase health insurance and the employer mandate to provide coverage.

Liberty University was one of four main challengers to the healthcare law last term. However, Liberty University v. Geithner was the only case in which a lower federal appellate court held that the Anti-Injunction Act, barring pre-enforcement tax challenges, applied to block the challenge from going forward. The Supreme Court ruled that the AIA does not apply in its final decision in NFIB v. Sebelius.

The university wants to pursue two claims against the healthcare law: challenges to the law’s employer mandate to provide employee health insurance under the commerce, necessary and proper, tax and spending clauses, and challenges to the individual and employer mandates under the equal protection and First Amendment religion clauses.

“Today’s ruling breathes new life into our challenge to Obamacare,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, in a statement. “Congress exceeded its power by forcing every employer to provide federally mandated insurance. But even more shocking is the abortion mandate, which collides with religious freedom and the rights of conscience.”

The Obama Administration did not oppose the university’s request that its case be remanded, but said, in a b rief to the Court, that the claims were without merit.

Marcia Coyle can be contacted at