Justices Take 2 Cases That Challenge Health Law ; Companies Cite Religion in Refusing to Provide Birth Control Coverage

By Liptak, Adam | International New York Times, November 27, 2013 | Go to article overview

Justices Take 2 Cases That Challenge Health Law ; Companies Cite Religion in Refusing to Provide Birth Control Coverage


Liptak, Adam, International New York Times


The Supreme Court agreed to hear cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for birth control based on the religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations' owners.

The cases present a new challenge to President Obama's health care law. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law's requirements for contraception coverage. But for-profit corporations, it said, cannot rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law.

"Our policy is designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor," Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. "The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women."

The lower courts are divided over whether such corporations may object to generally applicable laws on religious liberty grounds.

In June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver, ruled for Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned by a family whose members have said they try to run the business on Christian principles. The company has more than 15,000 full-time employees of many faiths. …

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