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Supreme Court orders new look at Liberty University's health care challenge

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider Liberty University’s legal argument that President Obama's health care law violates the school’s religious freedom.

The case will be returned to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

“Today’s ruling breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which filed the suit on behalf of the school, said Monday. “Our fight against ObamaCare is far from over.”

A federal judge in 2010 rejected Liberty’s claim, and the appeals court later ruled the lawsuit was premature and failed to address the substance of the school's arguments.

The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June 2012.

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

The school is challenging the constitutionality of the part of the law that mandates employers provide insurance and whether forcing insurers to pay for birth control is unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion clause.

The appeals court ruled last year the Anti-Injunction Act barred it from addressing the merits in the case. The act blocks any challenge to a "tax" before a taxpayer pays it -- in this case referring to the penalties associated with failing to obtain health insurance. 

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling stated the act did not serve as a barrier to lawsuits challenging the health care law. On that basis, Liberty University immediately petitioned the court to allow it to renew its original case.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.