Supreme Court directs appeals court to consider Hobby Lobby ruling in Obamacare case

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

(lawprofessors.typepad.com)

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) -- The U.S. Supreme court struck down a ruling Monday that previously required a Catholic ministry to comply with Obamacare's contraception mandate despite a violation of the organization's religious beliefs.

The order from the high court asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its previous decision forcing The Michigan Catholic Conference to observe a provision under the Affordable Care Act that employers cover the cost of contraception for employees.

In their decision, Justices cited last June's landmark Hobby Lobby ruling, which exempted the retail chain from the contraception mandate due to religious objections.

The Michigan case marks the sixth time the Supreme Court has protected a religious organization from a lower court's ruling in favor of the federal government.

Other religious organizations ruled as exempt from the mandate included Wheaton College in Illinois and Notre Dame University in Indiana.

"The government keeps making the same bad arguments and the Supreme Court keeps rejecting them -- every single time. This is because the government can obviously come up with ways to distribute contraceptives without the forced involvement of Catholic ministries," Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. The Becket Fund filed an amicus brief in the case.

"As with the Supreme Court's decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government's narrow view of religious liberty. And it makes it less likely that lower courts will accept arguments the Supreme Court has rejected over and over and over again."

Though current law provides an exemption that must be requested in writing, the process was considered an "unjustified substantial burden" by the religiously affiliated groups which desired the same provisions received by churches or houses of worship.

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