U.S. Supreme Court

Can companies be required to provide contraceptive coverage? US urges SCOTUS to decide the issue


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The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether for-profit companies can be required to provide contraceptive coverage over the religious objections of their owners.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. urged the court to resolve the issue last week in a case involving the craft store Hobby Lobby, report the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Jost on Justice and SCOTUSblog. Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, who want protection for their religious belief that life begins at conception.

The contraception mandate, part of the Obama administration’s health care law, exempts strictly religious organizations but not for-profit companies.

The federal government is asking the high court to overturn a ruling for Hobby Lobby by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 10th Circuit ruled that the contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Two other federal appeals courts, however, have ruled against employers.

A cert petition in one of the other cases—seeking to appeal a ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—is also before the Supreme Court. The case involves a company called Conestoga Wood that is owned by a Mennonite family. They claim violations of both RFRA and the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the cases raise two large issues: whether a for-profit corporation is a person protected by religious freedom laws, and whether a corporation can have religious beliefs.

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