WASHINGTON — In an unusual move — possibly designed to prevent another high court deadlock — the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order yesterday urging a compromise in the challenge by religious nonprofits to Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
The justices proposed a possible solution that would balance the religious freedom rights of nonprofit groups that provide contraceptive coverage for employees and the Obama administration’s push to make reproductive health care more accessible.
At oral arguments the justices appeared ideologically divided, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calling the mandate necessary to serve “a need” for women’s health care “that was marginally ignored up until then,” while Justice Samuel Alito Jr. called it “an unprecedented threat to religious liberty in this country.”
Yesterday the court ordered the parties to submit additional briefs on whether no-cost contraception can be provided “in a way that does not require any involvement of (nonprofits) beyond their own decision to provide health insurance without contraceptive coverage to their employees.” The justices asked for the briefs to consider if nonprofits could “inform their insurance company that they do not want their health plan to include contraceptive coverage” but “would not be required to submit any separate notice to their insurer, to the Federal Government, or to their employees.”
“Clearly the Supreme Court understood (plaintiffs’) concern that the government’s current scheme forces them to violate their religion,” said Mark Rienzi, lead attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
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