U.S. News


Supreme Court To Hear Obamacare Contraception Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would hear two cases involving the Affordable Care Act\'s contraceptive mandate.
Posted at 3:53 PM, Nov 26, 2013

President Obama’s healthcare law is once again headed to the country’s highest court — this time over its contraceptive mandate. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Jarek Tuszynski​) 

That, of course, is the provision that requires most employers to provide group health plans that offer low or no-cost birth control. (Via CBS)

Churches and many other religious organizations are already exempt from the requirement, but the Supreme Court will decide whether for-profit corporations should be too. So far, about 40 different companies have sued on religious grounds. (Via ABC)

But it’s the case brought by craft store chain Hobby Lobby that’s gotten the most attention — and it's one of the two cases the court decided to hear.  

The owners argue providing insurance converge for two types of the morning-after pill and two types of IUDs essentially make them complicit in performing abortions — therefore violating their religious beliefs.  (Via Fox News

Hobby Lobby would have to pay about $1.3 million in fines every day for failing to provide coverage. A lower court had already ruled in favor of the craft store, but the Obama administration appealed. (Via WZTV)  

Both sides see the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 differently. It's the federal law that says “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” (Via Wikimedia Commons / Noclip)   

Hobby Lobby argues that should apply to for-profit, secular companies — not just individuals. But the Obama administration says the law doesn't extend to companies, and has long argued providing contraception is necessary to ensure public health. 

“We decided to follow the judgment of the nation’s leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care.” (Via The White House

Scotusblog's Tom Goldstein boils down what's at stake, telling NBC it's: "a question that’s been open for a long time: Do companies, not just people and churches, have religious freedom?” 

Legal analysts say the long-term impact of that decision — whatever it may be — could be huge.


​The ACLU told Politico ruling against the administration is “in essence saying that these corporations … can impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”

Meaning, employers could deny services entitled under the Affordable Care Act like mental health services, blood transfusions and cancer treatments. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Alex Proimos

And MSNBC's Irin Carmon writes:  “corporations could be allowed to opt out not only of health coverage for religiously contested services – including vaccinations or blood transfusions – but labor regulations."

A Catholic university in Pittsburgh has already claimed it doesn’t have to allow student to form unions because of its religious affiliation. (Via ThinkProgress)

Arguments in the case would likely take place in March, with a decision sometime in June.