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November 09, 2015

High Court to Hear Faith Groups' Cases on Contraceptive Rule

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up lawsuits brought by religious nonprofits challenging the Affordable Care Act's mandate that their health-care plans provide birth-control coverage for employees, Politico and The Washington Post report. The justices combined seven cases filed by faith-affiliated charities, schools, and other organizations that contend the rule violates their religious liberty, even with an accommodation implemented by the Obama administration.

Under the workaround, third-party insurers administer and pay for providing contraceptive coverage if a religious organization states a moral objection to doing so directly. The plaintiffs say this still makes them complicit in providing birth control, in breach of their beliefs, and are seeking a full exemption like that granted to houses of worship.

Seven U.S. appeals courts have upheld the administration's position that the amended rule meets the government objective of providing workers with contraceptive coverage without unduly burdening religious freedom, but an eighth court sided with the plaintiffs in a September ruling, prompting the White House to ask the high court to step in.