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Supreme Court Rules Against Obamacare Contraception Mandate

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AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez

"Although [the Department of Health and Human Services] has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have made religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court. "We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Government's aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty."

At issue was whether the contraception mandate passed the strict scrutiny standards imposed by the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which said laws that substantially burden a person's exercise of religion must be justified by a compelling governmental interest and be narrowly tailored to meet that interest.

"RFRA's text shows that Congress designed the statute to provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend to put merchants to such a choice," Alito wrote. He concluded: "The contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violates RFRA."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg led the dissent on behalf of the liberal-leaning justices, chiding the majority's ruling as "a decision of startling breadth." She said the Court has allowed commercial enterprises to "opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

Kaiser Family Foundation provided a diagram detailing the core legal question.

The Supreme Court's ruling has no impact on the core components of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual mandate to buy insurance, most of which were upheld in 2012.

This article has been updated. The ruling is available below.

Hobby Lobby Ruling

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.