A view of the Supreme Court on Oct. 7, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

Supreme Court agrees to consider religious objection to Obamacare

 A view of the Supreme Court on Oct. 7, 2014.  Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

A view of the Supreme Court on Oct. 7, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday (Nov. 6) agreed to hear appeals brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

The nine justices will consider seven related cases on whether nonprofit groups that oppose the requirement on religious grounds can object under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to a compromise measure offered by the Obama administration.

Among those mounting objections are various Roman Catholic groups in Washington, D.C., including the Roman Catholic archdiocese and Catholic University of America. Another petition was filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns that runs care homes for the elderly. Some groups belonging to other Christian denominations also objected.

By agreeing to hear the cases, the justices will once again wade into the controversial subject of how to weigh religious objections to the contraceptive requirement.

In 2014, the court ruled 5-4 that family-owned companies run on religious principles, including craft retailer Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, could object to the provision on religious grounds.

The religious groups object to a compromise offered by the federal government in 2013. That compromise allows groups that oppose the requirement for religious reasons to comply without actually paying for the coverage required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.

Groups can certify they are opting out, which then forces insurers to pick up the tab. If a group refuses to comply with the law, they can face financial penalties, including a $100 charge per day for every affected employee who is refused contraception coverage.

The groups that sued have argued that the process of getting certified for an exemption still infringes on their religious rights because it essentially forces them to authorize the coverage for their employees, even if they are not paying for it.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March and issue a ruling before its term ends in June.

The latest dispute is just the most recent in a series of legal challenges to the healthcare law. The Supreme Court narrowly rejected two major conservative challenges to the law in 2012 and, most recently, June this year. The contraception case will have no bearing on the broader fate of Obamacare.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley)


  1. The argument by the religious groups here is ridiculous. Somehow allowing employees to make their own decisions is somehow infringing on their non-existent church’s right to control their behavior outside of the workplace.

    The churches are not paying for contraception, not paying for insurance which provides it, they are not doing anything which provides contraception. They are simply standing aside for the employees to make their own decisions. Free will!

    Just like the ACA allows one to get their own coverage for vision and dental care where an employer doesn’t provide it, they can get coverage contraception on their own as well.

    The new change to the ACA was the reasonable accommodation to the arguments used in Hobby Lobby. The churches aren’t looking for reasonable accommodation. They are just attacking the ACA for its own sake as part of their partnership with political conservatism. Because its so Un-Christian to have access to decent healthcare.

  2. Obamacare, too?
    Religion poisons everything.

    “The Kingdom of Heaven is advanced through violence and violent men shall take up arms to bring it about” – JESUS (Matthew 11:12)

    No wonder the Bible was a forbidden book for so many centuries. It is full of antisocial stuff.

  3. Once again some incentives to live a healthy life style and also ways to pay for universal health care.

    1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcoholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, high caloric/fatty foods??)

    2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay significantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).

    3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.

    4. No universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs.

    5. No universal health coverage for abortions unless the life of the mother is at significant risk and judged to be so by at least two doctors.

  4. A translation of Matt 11: 12 by Professor Bruce Chilton:

    “And the law and the prophets were until John and then
    the kingdom of god avails itself and everyone avails himself of it. “

  5. Has anybody asked the HobbyLobby about their insurance BEFORE Obamacare brought up birth control. Every insurance policy I checked for three years before Obamacare covered prescriptions which included..wait for it…contraception. Hobby Lobby didn’t seem to complain to BCBS or United. Which makes one wonder if they became religious after Obamacare.

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