Obamacare is heading back to the Supreme Court, where the high court announced today it will decide whether for-profit businesses can use religious objections to avoid paying for birth control for their employees. There have been 40 or so lawsuits from such companies, and the issue has largely divided the lower courts. The Associated Press with the details:
The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts. The other case is an appeal from Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that employs 950 people in making wood cabinets. Lower courts rejected the company's claims. ...
The cases center on a provision of the health care law that requires most employers that offer health insurance to their workers to provide a range of preventive health benefits, including contraception. In both instances, the Christian families that own the companies say that insuring some forms of contraception violates their religious beliefs.
The key issue is whether profit-making corporations can assert religious beliefs under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the First Amendment provision guaranteeing Americans the right to believe and worship as they choose. Nearly four years ago, the justices expanded the concept of corporate "personhood," saying in the Citizens United case that corporations have the right to participate in the political process the same way that individuals do.
The high court said the two cases will be combined for arguments, which will most likely come late March. A decision is expected by late June. Slate will have more on the SCOTUS announcement shortly.
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