Authors: Jeanette Torres
(WASHINGTON) -- Lawyers for the Obama administration will once again head to court on Friday to defend the health care reform law, this time from challengers who argue it violates their religious freedom.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will be the 4th appellate court to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
At issue is a key provision of the law -- the individual mandate -- that requires individuals to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
The mandate has been challenged in courts across the country. So far, one appeals court has upheld it, another has struck it down and a third dismissed two challenges on jurisdictional issues.
The Obama administration has consistently argued that Congress was well within its authority to pass the mandate because health care costs across the country were spiraling out of control.
The challenge in the D.C. circuit, Susan Seven-Sky v. Eric Holder, is brought by a conservative religious group representing four citizens. The group believes that the law violates members' religious beliefs, and says that Congress had no authority to force them into the marketplace to buy health insurance when members believe that God will protect them.
The religious group's members and lawyers at the American Center for Law and Justice argue in briefs, "The individual mandate substantially burdens their religious exercise by requiring them to either indefinitely maintain health insurance, which they sincerely believe would violate their religious belief that God will protect them from illness or injury, or pay annual penalties for declining to violate their faith."
While the ACA does offer some religious exemptions, some of the law's challengers do not qualify.
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