On Thursday, a U.S appeals court rejected a Christian university's claim that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 violates the constitution by restricting religious rights and forcing financial penalties on large employers.

Reuters reports that in a 3-0 panel decision, the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., rejected Liberty University's argument that Obamacare's employer mandate infringes on the constitution's Commerce clause and First Amendment by requiring large employers to provide full-time workers with healthcare plans that subsidize abortions.

"It goes against the principle that the Supreme Court laid down that Congress cannot force individuals to buy an unwanted product," said Mathew Staver, Dean of Liberty University's law school. "We believe the same principle applies to employers. If we win on the employer mandate, then the mandate would be gone for religious and non-religious employers."

The appeals process attracted dozens of supporter from both side, as the case addressed issues that were not covered in the 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld the majority of the healthcare reform's provisions - including the individual mandate whereby individuals are required to purchase health insurance or pay a tax.

The university filed the claim shortly after Obamacare was signed into law in 2010. The 4th Circuit threw the case out, citing lack of jurisdiction; however, the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to revisit the lawsuit.

The decision, which was co-written by Circuit Judges Diana Gribbon Motz, Andre Davis and James Wynn, held that the employer mandate did not force employers to "buy an unwanted product," nor could it be considered a penalty rather than tax.

"The employer mandate is no monster; rather, it is simply another example of Congress's longstanding authority to regulate employee compensation offered and paid for by employers in interstate commerce," the panel said.

Regarding the mandate's supposed encroachment on religious liberty, the court suggested healthcare plans that do not cover abortions except in cases rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

Among the many lawsuits filed against the Affordable Care Act, more than 60 address the requirement that employers provide birth control coverage.

Politico notes that although the university's suit had already been filed by the time President Obama announced the contraception coverage rules, it later added a direct challenge to those rules. However, with similar cases pending in lower courts, the appeals court said it could not rule on the matter.

"Plaintiffs did not challenge these regulations, or make any argument related to contraception or abortifacients, in the district court, in their first appeal before us, or in their Supreme Court briefs," the judges wrote. "Nevertheless, for the first time in their post-remand briefs, Plaintiffs seek to challenge these regulations."