Supreme Court Justice Temporarily Blocks Contraceptive Mandate

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 1 2014 10:03 AM

Supreme Court Justice Temporarily Blocks Contraceptive Mandate

90497711
She's a busy woman.

Photo by J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AFP/Getty Images

A good month for Obamacare ended poorly late Tuesday night when Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the ACA's contraceptive mandate for certain religious groups. Sotomayor issued the order in response to a request by the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as other Catholic nonprofits that use a religious health plan, and it applies only to those organizations. The Obama administration must respond by Friday morning. 

Mark Joseph Stern Mark Joseph Stern

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

The stay does not necessarily foretell an ultimate victory by the religious groups challenging the law, and the justices have not yet agreed to hear the groups' challenge in court. This case, in fact, is really quite different from the challenges that the justices will hear in March. Those cases revolve around the question of the "religious beliefs" of secular corporations; this one pertains exclusively to religious organizations—who can already opt out of the contraceptive mandate. The Justice Department stated as much in fighting the stay:

The Obama administration had argued that the Little Sisters of the Poor could opt out of the contraceptive coverage requirement by completing “a self-certification form” and providing it to the entity that administers their health benefits. Therefore, the Justice Department said, the contraceptive mandate imposes “no substantial burden on their exercise of religion.”
“To opt out of providing contraceptive coverage, Little Sisters need only certify that they are nonprofit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and that, because of religious objections, they are opposed to providing coverage for some or all contraceptive services,” the Justice Department told the appeals court on Monday.
Advertisement

But this argument was not enough to satisfy Sotomayor, who may have also been moved by the urgency of the request: Had she denied the stay, the Catholic groups behind the lawsuit would have had to start providing contraceptive care on Wednesday, or face serious fines. 

After granting the stay, Sotomayor darted over to Times Square, where she oversaw the annual New Year's Eve ball drop.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.