An effort by a divided Supreme Court to forge an agreement in the contentious legal fight between the Obama administration and religious nonprofits over birth-control coverage appears to have fallen short, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Faith-affiliated charities, colleges, and other groups are challenging the Affordable Care Act mandate that workplace health plans include contraceptive care. In oral arguments last month the shorthanded court appeared to split 4-4 over whether a White House accommodation — under which faith nonprofits could opt out of providing such coverage themselves by registering a written objection — sufficiently protects the groups’ religious liberty.
In an unusual move, the justices asked both sides to submit briefs addressing other ways of meeting the government’s goal of providing widespread contraceptive care. The plaintiffs offered a proposal last week that insurers be required to create stand-alone birth-control plans for workers at religious organizations, with separate enrollment, payment, and communication processes. In a brief filed Wednesday, the White House rebuffed this idea as “unworkable” and “profoundly flawed.”