Supreme Court Refuses To Halt Birth Control Mandate

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The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to temporarily block the Obama administration’s contraception mandate while the courts work through the case.

In a four-page opinion issued late Wednesday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor declared that the Hobby Lobby and Mardel, two retail outlets suing to block the requirement, do not meet the high standard for emergency injunctive relief.

“Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek,” wrote Sotomayor, the justice primarily responsible for cases in the Tenth Circuit where it’s pending. She reasoned that the plaintiffs’ right to immediate relief is not “indisputably clear” and that they cannot demonstrate the necessity of an injunction.Hobby Lobby and Mardel charge that the administration’s rule under the Affordable Care Act that employer health plans cover female contraception — or pay fines starting in 2013 — violates their religious liberty protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Dozens of other religious organizations are suing for the same reason.

The District Court has yet to issue a final judgment on the lawsuit and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied to grant the plaintiffs an injunction. Sotomayor made clear that they’ll have to play by the rules as the courts consider the merits of the case.

“Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts,” she wrote. “Following a final judgment, they may, if necessary, file a petition for a writ of certiorari in this Court.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.
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