Obamacare Contraception Mandate Hangs on SCOTUS Ruling
Policy + Politics

Obamacare Contraception Mandate Hangs on SCOTUS Ruling


Republicans have tried for years to carve away at the president’s health care law, but on Monday, a ruling expected by the Supreme Court might do their work for them.

In perhaps the most-closely watched case of the term, the Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare’s contraception mandate—requiring companies to cover contraceptives for their employees as part of their health plans.

Related: Supreme Court Lowers Obamacare Costs

Churches and strictly religious organizations are exempt from the law on the basis of their beliefs—however for-profit employers owned by religious families are not.

The case, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius  challenges the law under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law says laws that substantially burden religious liberty must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest. Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, are evangelical Christians who say the law infringes on their religious freedoms by forcing them to provide the contraceptives.

If the court rules in favor of the craft behemoth, it could have far-reaching impacts on American workers. Some say it may open up the possibility companies to denying other types of coverage to their employees based on their religious beliefs.

It would also be a huge blow to the White House, which is already reeling from the Court’s unanimous ruling Thursday that President Obama’s recess appointments were unconstitutional.

The Court said the president unconstitutionally used his recess appointment power when the Senate was in pro-forma session every three days. "Because the Senate was in session during its pro forma sessions, the president made the recess appointments before us during a break too short to count as recess," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion. "For that reason, the appointments are invalid."

Other major cases that were decided this week deal with issues like cellphone privacy, TV broadcast rights, regulating greenhouse gases and abortion clinic buffer zones. On Wednesday, the Court ruled that police need warrants to search Americans’ cell phones. It also ruled against TV streaming startup Aereo—saying it infringed on copyright by allowing people to record TV broadcasts.

The Court also limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate facilities that emit carbon dioxide, and struck down a Massachusetts law prohibiting people from protesting within 35 feet of abortion clinics—saying it violated the First Amendment.

Next week, it will wrap up its term by ruling on whether public sector labor unions can require everyone on their contract to pay a representation fee, as well as issue a ruling on the contraception mandate…. Stay tuned.

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