Obamacare will go before the Supreme Court again Wednesday, this time to decide the constitutionality of the law’s contraception mandate.
The case considers Obamacare’s rule requiring nonprofit employers to provide contraception coverage as part of insurance plans. Rev. David Zubik, the Catholic bishop for Pittsburgh, is leading the charge in the case, which consolidated the complaints of objecting Christian universities and groups like Little Sisters of the Poor.
Hobby Lobby won a Supreme Court case last year that allowed businesses to opt out of providing certain contraceptives for religious reasons, but it did not extend to nonprofits. The Obama administration hoped to appease religious groups by allowing them to submit an exemption form and allow a third party to provide it instead. But the groups have still taken issue with this and sued. Now the case is before the Supreme Court.
The groups say they are still involved in the process of providing the contraceptives by facilitating the coverage. They say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects them from having to violate their consciences by participating in providing contraception, even if they don’t pay for it. RFRA law states there must be a compelling government interest for violating sincerely held religious beliefs and that the violation must be done in the least restrictive way possible. The groups argue Obamacare has not met that burden.
But Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is a tough loss for the Obamacare opponents, and Justice Anthony Kennedy could likely be the swing vote. During his September visit to the U.S., Pope Francis met with the Little Sisters of the Poor to support their fight.
“The Little Sisters spend their lives taking care of the elderly poor—that is work our government should applaud, not punish,” Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, said in a statement. “The Little Sisters should not have to fight their own government to get an exemption it has already given to thousands of other employers, including Exxon, Pepsi Cola Bottling Company, and Boeing. Nor should the government be allowed to say that the Sisters aren’t ‘religious enough’ to merit the exemption that churches and other religious ministries have received.”
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