Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear religious challenges to the requirement that employers provide health insurance for their workers that includes birth control and related medical services. The Court said it would decide constitutional issues, as well as claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog.com reports, Court to rule on birth-control mandate (UPDATED):
The Court granted review of a government case (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores) and a private business case (Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius). Taking the Conestoga plea brought before the Court the claim that both religious owners of a business and the business itself have religious freedom rights, based on both the First Amendment and RFRA. The Hobby Lobby case was keyed to rights under RFRA.
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The Court did not expedite the briefing schedules for the new cases, so presumably they will be heard in March. Moreover, the Court has already released its argument schedule for all sittings through the February session.
Under the orders the Court issued in the health care cases, the Justices are not being asked to strike down the requirement that employers provide a full range of pregnancy-related health care under their employees’ health insurance plans. In that sense, these cases are different from the Court’s first rulings on the ACA two years ago, when it upheld a penalty for an individual who refused to obtain health insurance at all and nullified a requirement that states must broadly expand their Medicare program of health care coverage for the poor.
This time, the Court will be focusing only on whether the pregnancy-related care coverage can be enforced against profit-making companies — or their individual owners, when that is a very small group — when the coverage contradicts privately held religious beliefs.