Student opposes Liberty U. health care lawsuit
Alexandra Moss, a student at Liberty University, takes exception to the lawsuit filed last week in the name of her school against the health care legislation signed by President Obama.
The unusual lawsuit -- I gather it is not common for a university to sue cabinet members -- argues that Congress "lacks authority to force individuals and private employers to buy or provide health insurance," according to a statement from the Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit that litigates to advance religious freedom. The group states that the law also illegally forces the plaintiffs -- including the university -- to "subsidize abortion," among other allegations. The Liberty Counsel sued on behalf of the university and several citizens.
The action has put a spotlight on Liberty, a school that recently passed 50,000 enrollment and says it's now the world's largest Christian university.
Moss, a Liberty student, writes in an e-mail:
"I, along with many others, are appalled at the lawsuit filed against the Health Care reform. The Liberty Counsel filed under Liberty University's name. By doing so, they are leading people to believe that ALL Liberty students share the same opinion as they do. This is certainly not the case. This lawsuit was filed without asking students how they felt about it."
I asked Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of Liberty University, about her complaint. He said the university surveyed a sample of students and found them overwhelmingly supportive of the action.
"They're divided, but they're divided 98 percent to 2 percent," he said.
Falwell said the university had a moral obligation to sue because of the potential for tax-funded abortions, a point of massive contention in health-care reform. "The sanctity of life is one of the core beliefs of the university," he said, in a telephone interview.
Another motivating factor is student aid reform, packaged with the health care bill. Falwell said Liberty is opposed to the changes in student lending approved by the Congress, expanding the federal government's role in making loans to students.
What rankles the university and its trustees, he said, is the notion that the government will be taking profits in the form of student interest payments and using some of that money, in essence, to pay for the larger legislative package. The lawsuit doesn't mention student aid, because, Falwell said, the group couldn't find constitutional objections to that part of the bill.
"In our opinion, it's the generation that's in college now that's going to bear the burden of the cost of paying for this legislation," he said. "We're in the process of inviting every university in the country to join in this lawsuit."
Falwell said that the lawsuit ultimately reflects the will of the university's trustees, not its students.
"The vast majority of our students support it, but even if they didn't, the board of our university would object to this bill," he said.
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Daniel de Vise
March 29, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
Categories: Administration , Online , Public policy | Tags: Liberty University, health care bill, student protest
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